Belfast Telegraph

UK growth of 0.3% 'proof of slowdown as consumers squeezed'

By Margaret Canning/PA

The UK economy enjoyed "steady but not spectacular" growth of 0.3% in the second quarter, according to official figures. While GDP growth of 0.3% from April to June was marginally better than the 0.2% seen in the first quarter of 2017, it was still evidence of a growing "economic slowdown", one economist said.

And at 0.3%, expansion was well down on the 0.7% recorded in the last three months of 2016.

Just over one-third of the second quarter's growth came from retail, while around one quarter came from film production and distribution.

But manufacturing and construction both showed lower levels of output.

Dr Esmond Birnie, senior economist at the Ulster University economic policy centre, said: "An estimated growth of 0.3% is steady but not spectacular although an improvement on the first quarter's 0.2%.

"Just over one-third of that growth was contributed by retail and about one-quarter came from the film production and distribution sector in the UK."

Northern Ireland's composite economic index - the closest measure in the province to GDP - had shown growth of 0.3% in the first quarter of 2017, though figures are not available for the second quarter.

Danske Bank economist Conor Lambe said consumer-driven areas were showing growth.

"Despite the pressure high inflation is exerting on household finances, consumer-focused sectors such as retail trade and food and beverage service activities grew in the second quarter.

"Investment-related sectors, namely manufacturing and construction, experienced falls in output.

"The UK economy grew a little bit more quickly in the second quarter of the year than it did in the first quarter.

"However, the estimated growth rate of 0.3% is still relatively low and is further evidence of the economic slowdown that is being driven by a squeeze on UK consumers and by high levels of uncertainty."

The Office for National Statistics' initial estimate covered the quarter after Britain notified Brussels of its intention to leave the EU in Theresa May's Article 50 letter of March 29.

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