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Jan 20, 2021
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Britain to publish weekly data on Covid-19 impact on spending

Reuters API
Jan 20, 2021

Britain will publish new weekly figures from Thursday to provide an up-to-date view of how consumer spending is being affected by the coronavirus crisis, based on payments data collected by the Bank of England.

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes monthly retail sales estimates, but official data on broader household consumption - including sectors hit hard by COVID-19 lockdowens, such as restaurant meals - appears only once every three months.

The new figures will come from the Clearing House Automated Payment System (CHAPS) operated by the central bank. Bank of England officials occasionally cite data from this in speeches, but the bank does not make it routinely available.

The ONS said the Bank of England would now provide weekly aggregated, anonymised information on payments made by credit and debit card processors to about 100 major retailers and other businesses.

"These CHAPS data bring an additional element to the mix with the capturing of the spends on social activities, such as sporting events, concerts, a meal or drinks in a pub or restaurant, haircuts, beauty treatments and train fares," the ONS said.

The ONS said the figures would appear weekly on Thursdays, alongside other rapid economic indicators published since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The figures will be classified as experimental, meaning that the ONS does not view them as reaching the highest standard of reliability.

Britain's most recent official data showed that retail sales in November were 2.4% above their level a year earlier, while broader consumer spending in the three months to Sept. 30 was still 9.8% below its pre-pandemic level.

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