Growth in the UK’s private sector picked up in the three months to February, according to the latest CBI Growth Indicator.
The measure, based on 671 respondents across the distribution, manufacturing and service sectors, showed the balance of firms reporting a rise in output at +20 per cent, up from +nine per cent in the three months to January. Growth strengthened across the board and was far above the long-run average in most sectors. Within distribution, however, retail volumes declined once again, although at a slower pace than in the previous month.
Looking ahead, the pace of growth is expected to edge higher over the three months to May (+24 per cent), underpinned by a pick-up in retail and robust growth across all other sub-sectors. During this year and next, the CBI expects conditions to remain challenging for consumer-facing companies and retailers, with higher inflation and weak wage growth squeezing household budgets.
Meanwhile, manufacturers should continue to benefit from the lower level of sterling and the improving global economic environment. Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Chief Economist, said: “It’s good to see firm growth in the UK economy this month, and expectations of growth into next quarter also look positive. “However, both businesses and consumers continue to grapple with uncertainty over the economic outlook and Brexit, so the government must help counter this by intensifying its focus on the domestic agenda, with industrial strategy leading the way to deliver higher productivity and living standards.”