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UK narrowly avoided recession in 2022 as economy flatlined
10 February 2023

The UK’s economy flatlined in the last three months of 2022, helping it to avoid a recession by the thinnest of margins, new data show.

The Office for National Statistics recorded 0.0% growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter.

Anything below zero would have pushed the economy into recession. A recession is generally defined in the UK as two quarters of declining GDP in a row and the economy contracted 0.2% in the third quarter.

The ONS said that when counting to two decimal places, the UK eked out a tiny 0.01% growth. These figures might be revised in late March when the ONS looks again.

It came as December’s GDP figures showed that the economy shrunk by 0.5%, in part due to strikes and the World Cup, as the Premier League took a break.

Darren Morgan, ONS Director of Economics, said: “The economy contracted sharply in December meaning, overall, there was no growth in the economy over the last three months of 2022. In December public services were hit by fewer operations and GP visits, partly due to the impact of strikes, as well as notably lower school attendance.

“Meanwhile, the break in Premier League football for the World Cup and postal strikes also caused a slowdown.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said that the UK is “not out the woods yet” and said that the country could have some of the best growth prospects in Europe if it sticks to his plan.

He continued: “Our economy is more resilient than many feared. However, we are not out the woods yet, particularly when it comes to inflation. If we stick to our plan to halve inflation this year, we can be confident of having amongst the best prospects for growth of anywhere in Europe.”

Retail sales volumes were estimated to have dropped by 1% in December, marking the second month of decline, according to ONS. It was far worse than the 0.5% rise that experts had been expecting, according to a consensus from Pantheon Macroeconomics.

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