Commenting on today’s Office of National Statistics GDP estimate, Nitesh Patel, Strategic Economist at Yorkshire Building Society, said:

The 2.1% month-on-month rise in GDP to March – the strongest growth since August 2020 – may well mark the start of a rapid rebound in GDP that will take the economy back to its pre-pandemic level in the first half of next year, with GDP now just 5.9% below where it stood in before the Covid-19 crisis.

The driver of growth has been services, with the reopening of schools and retail sales picking up in March helping to boost GDP. The sharp rises in confidence, indicated by business surveys, suggests the economy had started to make progress before 12 April when lockdown eased, with bars and restaurants attracting customers in their droves to eat and drink outdoors to pubs and restaurants with gardens. With the next phase of unlocking commencing from next Monday and a full opening date set for 21 June, we expect to see the economy on an upward trajectory.

We expect money will be burning a hole in the pocket of consumers, whose confidence has been renewed by the successful rollout of the vaccination to date and who will want to make up for lost time this summer. As always, this optimism is dependent on the roll-out of the vaccine programme continuing to progress, with a risk of further rises in infections or new variants that could slow the recovery.

All information correct at time of publication.