Belfast Telegraph

Fewer shopping trips, nights out and car repairs hit Northern Ireland economy

Increase in drugs and tobacco production and recycling activity

A decrease in activity in the motor vehicle repair trade hit economic activity
A decrease in activity in the motor vehicle repair trade hit economic activity
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Fewer shopping trips, nights out on the town and cars not breaking down was blamed for a drop in economic activity.

However, stockpiling for Brexit is thought to be behind an increase in production sector output.

The first quarter of 2019 recorded a drop in output for the services sector. It was the first time since the last quarter of 2014 growth was not reported and since the 10-year high at the end of last year.

As well as a reported decrease in car repairs, the accommodation and food service sector and retail trade, the decrease was partially offset by increases in the business and finance service sectors and other areas such as education, arts and recreation.

Meanwhile an increase in recycling was partially responsible for an increase in the production sector. Overall it increased during the same period by 1.7% and over the year by 2.3%. This trend was also reported across the UK.

Increases were reported in the manufacturing sector, water supply, sewerage and waste management and the mining and quarrying sector.

There was a decrease in the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply sector.

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There were also reports on an increase in drugs manufacturing, metal products fabrication, leather, food products and tobacco production.

In the past six months a number of firms reported an increase in production as part of preparations for the UK leaving the EU in March before an extension was granted until the end of October.

Looking at the longer term trend, when the most recent four quarters are compared to the previous four quarters, output in the NI production sector grew by 2.7%, with the whole of the UK reporting growth of 0.5%.

Production sector output has increased in real terms by 1.7% over the quarter to its highest point since Q1 2017.

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