From the weak start to 2018, Britain’s economy picked up during the first half of the year, and it is growing more quickly than economists had expected, according to a closely watched economic report from Britain’s Office for National Statistics.
The public and private sector sector gained strength in April through June, and wages rose faster than inflation.
The recovery in the second quarter, up 1.4 percent compared with the first three months of the year, accelerated from a 0.4 percent gain in the first quarter. Analysts had expected a small increase, at 1.2 percent.
British consumers benefited from strong domestic demand for big-ticket items and helped offset the impact of a weak global economy, a Brexit vote in June 2016 and a stronger pound, which makes imports more expensive.
And the news was better for construction, manufacturing and exports.
The official trade deficit fell by almost half to £8.8 billion, the smallest gap since April 2016. Goods exports climbed to the highest level since early 2013, and manufacturing output rose 1.3 percent. Exports to the European Union – important to British firms – were 6.5 percent higher than a year earlier.
Yet households cut back spending again on things like clothes, footwear and shoes – and, in May, they spent more on clothing than for the first time in four years. The household saving rate also fell slightly.