Gross domestic product in the UK rose 1.8% in May but is still well below the levels seen in February, before the coronavirus pandemic struck in earnest, said an Office for National Statistics report released Tuesday.

“The level of output did not recover from the record falls seen in March and April and has reduced by 24.5% compared with February, before the full impact of the coronavirus,” it said.

The report said in May, the services sector grew 0.9%, following a fall of 18.9% in April.

“The largest positive contributor to this increase was the wholesale, retail and repair of motor vehicles sub-sector,” it said.

In particular, it added, the retail industry grew 12.0% as a result of strong growth in non-food stores and a record proportion of online sales.

“Despite an increase of 0.9% in services, the level of services output is 24.4% lower than the pre COVID-19 level in February,” it noted.

Commenting on the figures, Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said: “Manufacturing and house building showed signs of recovery as some businesses saw staff return to work.”

Despite this, he added, the economy was still a quarter smaller in May than in February, before the full effects of the pandemic struck.

Meanwhile, over the three months to May, the economy shrank 19.1%, following falls of 10.8% in April and 2.2% in March.

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