“Today’s GDP figures are the equivalent of pubs reopening in the middle of a snowstorm, welcome but chilly. Growth of 0.4% regains some of January’s lost ground but falls below the 0.6% expected by analysts. Unsurprisingly as lockdown continued, services fared the worst but there was some pick-up in wholesale trade. There is still lot of ground to make up but yesterday’s packed pub gardens and queues outside high street stores telegraphs that many consumers are more than ready to put months of restrictions behind them and spend, spend, spend.
“There is also small comfort to be had in February’s trade figures. Exports to the EU which dropped so dramatically off a cliff in January have bungeed back up, though they are still £2bn down on pre-Brexit levels. Notably imports from the EU were less resilient and remain more than £5bn down. It’s clear there are still issues but many of those will have been exacerbated by lockdown restrictions, something which will undoubtedly continue further into the spring. The big question analysts will be pondering is why EU exporters seemed less able to adapt to new measures than British ones and if that’s got more to do with will than any additional red-tape”