THE UK economy shrank by 2.9% in January 2021 after taking a hit due to the third national lockdown.
This marks a step backwards from the end of last year, when the economy grew 1.2% between November and December, according to the Office for National Statistics.
But the fall was lower than the 4.9% dip that economists had previously predicted for January.
The economy is now 9% smaller than its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.
January's dip in economic growth came when the nation was put under a third national lockdown, with some of the toughest restrictions in place since Covid hit a year ago.
The services sector was the main drag on growth, decreasing by 3.5%, as hospitality and leisure businesses had to temporarily close under Covid restrictions.
Deputy national statistician for economic statistics Jonathan Athow said: "The economy took a notable hit in January, albeit smaller than some expected, with retail, restaurants, schools and hairdressers all affected by the latest lockdown.
"Manufacturing also saw its first decline since April, with car manufacturing falling significantly.
"However, increases in health services from both vaccine rollout and increased testing partially offset the declines in other industries.
"Both imports and exports to the EU fell markedly in January, with much of this likely the result of temporary factors.
"Returns from our more timely surveys and other indicators suggest trading began to recover towards the end of the month."
Meanwhile, total imports and exports of goods saw the largest monthly fall since records began in January 1997, according to separate ONS data.
This was driven by a 40.7% fall in exports to and a 28.8% fall in imports from the EU.
More to follow…
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