The UK economy grew in April at its fastest monthly pace since July 2020 as lockdown restrictions eased, according to figures released on Friday by the Office for National Statistics.
The economy expanded by 2.3% following 2.1% growth in March and versus expectations for 2.5% growth.
On the year, GDP was up 27.6%. Nevertheless, the UK economy is still 3.7% smaller than it was in February 2020, before the pandemic and related restrictions kicked in.
Retail sales volumes grew 9.2% on the month in April after all non-essential stores reopened from 12 April in England and Wales and from 26 April in Scotland.
Education output was the second main contributor to services growth, according to the ONS, up 11.2% as more pupils returned to onsite lessons in April.
ONS deputy national statistician for Economic Statistics Jonathan Athow said: “Strong growth in retail spending, increased car and caravan purchases, schools being open for the full month and the beginning of the reopening of hospitality all boosted the economy in April.
“The economy is now less than 4% below its pre-pandemic peak overall, however, declines in the often-erratic pharmaceutical industry, shutdowns in many car plants and large-scale oil field maintenance pulled back the headline rate of growth.
“Exports of goods have now, broadly, recovered from the disruptions seen at the beginning of the year. However, imports of goods from the EU are still significantly down on 2020 levels.”