Growth At UK Firms Slowed By Omicron
Growth in private sector activity slowed in the last quarter of the year as labour shortages and rising costs continued and some coronavirus restrictions were reintroduced to tackle the emergence of the Omicron variant.
According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), growth was up 21% in the period, compared with 32% last month. The CBI also noted that this was the slowest rate of growth since the three months to April. However, it remains significantly above the long-run average of 4%.
“Substantial challenges remain for businesses heading into Christmas: labour and materials shortages, rising costs and new Covid measures are restricting business’ ability to trade during this crucial period,” said CBI Lead Economist Alpesh Paleja.
“With uncertainty rising – associated with the sharp rise in Omicron cases – it’s no surprise that the near-term growth outlook has dampened. The new support measures announced by the Chancellor provided welcome breathing space to boost confidence and will help hospitality and leisure businesses to keep their doors open.”
“But with the potential of further measures still weighing on firms, the Government must monitor the situation closely,” Paleja added.
In the three months to December, only manufacturers saw an acceleration in growth. Meanwhile, business and professional services, consumer services, and distribution firms all reported slower growth.
It is expected that growth will slow again in the coming three months, accounting for the spread of the Omicron variant.