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Britain back in recession, but retail made "positive contribution" to GDP

Published: 25 April 2012
The latest preliminary estimate from the Office of National Statistics shows the country is technically in a double-dip recession, with the GDP having contracted by 0.2% in Q1 following a 0.3% shrinkage in Q4 2011, but sector insight shows positive growth in the retail sector.
Britain back in recession, but retail made 'positive contribution' to GDP
The slide was largely down to the biggest fall in construction output in three years, according to the ONS.

It wasn't all bad news however; the distribution, hotels and restaurant sector index increased by 0.1% in Q1 2012, following a 0.4% decrease in the previous quarter, with the ONS revealing "retail, food and beverage services made the largest contributions to the increase."

Figures also revealed a like-for-like increase of 0.3% for the sector between Q1 2011 and Q2 2012. With the overall results suggesting a slide back into a recession for the country, the BRC has issued a warning about the negative impact the news could have on retail, as consumers react to the statistics.

The British Retail Consortium pointed out that the news came at a particularly poor time, with consumer confidence already at a low ebb due to growing inflation and high fuel and utility bills.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: "2012 looks like being tougher than we thought. The figures are subject to revision but the UK's return to a technical recession is a blow. Whether the GDP growth is just above or below zero doesn't change the harsh realities facing customers but it will undermine confidence at a time when we desperately need to be going forwards, not backwards.

"Sunshine helped the retail sector in March and left these GDP figures less negative than they would have been but that cannot disguise the fundamental difficulties faced by households and businesses.

"Consumers are struggling to balance their budgets. We won't see a convincing revival until real wage growth returns but last month's increase in inflation suggests the squeeze on disposable incomes will continue.

"If it's to rekindle recovery the Government must deliver a credible growth strategy. It should halt its tsunami of destructive new regulations and taxes. They are adding costs to individuals and households and can only prolong this new recession."

It is the first double-dip recession to hit the country since 1975.

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