The pingdemic puts the brakes on Britain’s Covid recovery

The pingdemic puts a brake on Britain’s Covid recovery as workers and shoppers remain trapped indoors

  • Nearly 700k people were pinged by the NHS Covid app in the week to July 21
  • Many who have been forced into self-isolation have received both vaccines or have been found to be healthy, but still have to be out of work for up to 10 days
  • The app has damaged sectors such as retail and hospitality, and many businesses have been forced to close again

Britain’s economic recovery began to slow in July as the ‘pingdemic’ kept workers and shoppers indoors.

Activity in the dominant services sector, which includes industries from banking to retail, grew for the fifth straight month as Covid restrictions were lifted.

But the pace of growth was the weakest since March, at the end of the winter lockdown, when staff shortages put pressure on supply.

Britain’s economic recovery began to slow in July as the ‘pingdemic’ kept workers and shoppers indoors

In the week to 21 July alone, nearly 700,000 people were pinged by the NHS Covid app. Many who have been forced into self-isolation have received both vaccines or have been found to be healthy, but still have to be off work for up to 10 days.

The app has hurt sectors such as retail and hospitality, and many businesses have been forced to close again. According to analyst Springboard’s latest shoppers data, visits to UK stores fell 24.2 percent in July from the same time in 2019.

IHS Market’s services activity index fell from 62.4 in June to 59.6 in July in July. A score above 50 indicates growth. Businesses’ problems were compounded by costs rising the fastest in 25 years.

Companies had to pay their staff more to convince the few available employees to join. Some offer big bonuses, hoping to attract more workers. Nursing home operator HC One is offering a £10,000 welcome bonus on two night nurse jobs, both in Scotland.

Duncan Brock, of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, said: “We suspect the best of the post-pandemic recovery is behind us, especially if higher costs for leisure and hospitality curb appetite.”

Rising prices could be a concern for the Bank of England, which is trying to balance the need to keep inflation under control. The Monetary Policy Rate-Setting Committee will announce the outcome of its latest meeting today.

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