TOURISM and recreation joined 12 other UK sectors that are outperforming their international counterparts on a series of metrics tracking recovery from Covid-19 in August, according to Lloyds Bank.

The Lloyds Bank UK Recovery Tracker, working with IHS Markit, provides unique insight into the shape and pace of the UK’s recovery following the unprecedented disruption caused by Covid-19.

The output of UK businesses in 13 of the 14 sectors monitored by the tracker increased in August, up from 12 sectors in July as tourism and recreation returned to growth for the first time since February.

The sector, which includes hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities, posted a PMI reading of 60 in August, up from 45 in July. A reading of above 50 signals output is rising, while a reading below 50 indicates output is falling.

Tourism and recreation joined automobiles and auto parts (77) and healthcare (71) as the sectors furthest ahead of global benchmarks during August. The UK automotive industry registered the fastest growth of all sectors as manufacturing plants increased their capacity and consumer demand rebounded.

Healthcare output growth was driven by the restart of private health services and robust demand for pharmaceuticals, PPE and other healthcare products.

Chemicals (62) also recorded a strong rise in production volumes.

While the vast majority of UK sectors outperformed their international counterparts in August, this should be viewed in the context of the historic lows recorded during the second quarter of 2020. All 14 UK sectors monitored by the Tracker underperformed against the global benchmark in April.

Many tourism and recreation businesses only started to operate again in July, which helped make the sector’s August rebound in output so sharp.

Travel restrictions and the continued use of work-from-home policies by businesses meant transport (44) was the only sector to fall behind the global benchmark of recovery in August and register an outright decline in output.

Number of UK sectors reporting faster output growth falls from 12 to seven in August

In July, 12 of the 14 sectors monitored by the Tracker reported their output rose at a faster pace month-on-month, but in August only seven of the 14 reported that this was the case. This indicates the momentum behind the recovery of some UK sectors is already starting to slow after a sharp rebound in output from the historic lows recorded during Q2 2020.

Metals and mining saw the largest month-on-month decrease in August (59 vs 75 in July), after topping the rankings in July. Beverages and food (56 v 63) and household products (58 v 64) also recorded weaker output growth than in July, suggesting that the recent expansion of domestic consumer demand following the easing of lockdown measures is starting to tail off.

UK recovery outpaces Europe in August

Private sector output grew across the majority of the globe in August. The World PMI rose to 52 in August from 51 in July, the fastest rate of economic growth in 17 months.

However, in Europe, output growth in Germany (54 v 55), France (52 v 57) and Ireland (54 v 56) slowed month-on-month, while Spain (48 v 53) and Italy (50 v 52) fell back into decline.

The UK bucked this downwards trend, registering accelerated output growth month-on-month in August (59 v 57) as its recovery from exceptionally low output levels in Q2 2020 continued.

Aside from the UK, the only other countries to see stronger output growth month-on-month were the United States (55 v 50), Russia (57 v 56.8) and China (55 v 54.5), indicating that a narrow group of nations underpinned global economic recovery in August.

Jeavon Lolay, Head of Economics and Market insight, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The headline findings of this month’s UK Recovery Tracker paint a positive picture, with more domestic businesses outperforming their international counterparts during August. However, despite most UK sectors being ahead of the global benchmark, the data shows the recovery of some industries is starting to slow.

“When it comes to the UK’s performance, it’s worth noting that other European countries have already experienced a slowdown in their performance as they navigate further outbreaks of Covid-19 and additional measures to stop the pandemic’s spread. It will be interesting to see the picture in September when the Eat Out to Help Out scheme has ended and the impact of the ‘rule of six’ on sectors that rely on social interaction, such as tourism and recreation, is clearer.”

Ed Thurman, Managing Director, Global Transaction Banking, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, added: “The continued signs of recovery measured by the Tracker shows the strength of British businesses as they continue to navigate a difficult and uncertain economic climate.

“I am encouraged by the resilience and ambition we have seen from businesses throughout this period to adapt and succeed. As they do so, the Recovery Tracker will help us support firms with insight on the evolving economic situation – and the challenges and opportunities it presents.”