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Britain’s economy surpassed its pre-pandemic level for the first time in November ahead of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and government warnings about workplaces and social gatherings.

Official figures showed GDP grew by 0.9% in the penultimate month of 2021, making the UK economy 0.7% larger than it was before March 2020 and the first lock.

The United States, France, Denmark and Sweden are among other rich countries to have recovered all the ground lost during the pandemic while Germany, Italy and Spain have yet to make the leap. of the pandemic.

City economists had expected an expansion of just 0.4% and said November would likely be a high point in 2021, with figures collected by the Office for National Statistics arriving shortly before the Omicron variant does. set in, worsening worker shortages as thousands went on sick leave. . It followed growth of 0.2% in October.

Britain’s economy grew 0.9% in November, taking it above pre-pandemic levels for the first time

An increase in early Christmas shopping provided one of the strongest boosts to activity in November, although all sectors, including manufacturing and services, reported an increase in production.

As the HS2 high-speed line begins to progress and housing construction can benefit from a mild November, the construction sector is up 3.5%, reversing a contractionary trend dating back to May.

The continued increase in healthcare services as a proportion of economic activity was another factor supporting the rise in GDP, the ONS said.

Amid rising inflation and anticipation of further interest rate hikes by the Bank of England, business groups warned the economy remained weak.

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the UK Chambers of Commerce, said: “Stronger growth in November is likely to be followed by a modest decline in output in December and January as consumers’ caution to socialize and spend , and increasing staff absences triggered by Omicron and Plan B restrict activity.

“While the UK economy is expected to rebound once Plan B measures are lifted, soaring inflation and continued supply chain disruption could mean that the UK’s economic growth outlook will remain under pressure for a while. much of 2022.”

Analysts said while the economy has struggled to grow since the summer, there is the prospect of a return to stronger growth in 2022, although consumer spending will be restrained by the rising cost of the life.

ONS officials said there was little evidence from early indicators that many shops and restaurants were forced to close in December, although business lobby groups suffered a collapse in bookings which prompted the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to offer £1billion in additional support.

Ana Boata, head of economic research at credit insurer Euler Hermes, said the consumer had come to the rescue of an economy still suffering from the effects of Covid-19

“We expect GDP growth to reach 4.4% this year, followed by a further increase of 2.6% in 2023. However, not everything is simple. Wages will increase by around 3.5% compared to the pre-crisis average in 2022, in response to rising prices across the economy.

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“Although the Bank of England has planned to raise rates at least twice this year to contain inflation, real household purchasing power will suffer, leaving excess savings to support household spending levels. consumers.”

Sunak welcomed news that Britain’s economy was bigger than before the pandemic.

“It’s amazing to see the size of the economy return to pre-pandemic levels in November – a testament to the courage and determination of the British people,” he said.