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Transport proves to be one of the most resilient business sectors in the UK economy, ONS report shows

The transport and storage sector is the fourth most resilient sector in the UK economy, according to a newly published report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The report labels any industry that saw growth in turnover greater than -2% between March to December 2019 and March to December 2020 as “resilient”. Using this method, fewer than one in five (19.7%), met the definition of resilient, employing 12.4% of the UK workforce.


Industries related to the manufacture and wholesale of motor vehicles were also among those that saw turnover fall towards the end of 2019 and early 2020. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) attribute this fall to economic and political uncertainty in autumn 2019. In addition, there were planned car factory shutdowns to mitigate against disruption from the potential exit from the EU without a deal in November 2019.


Industries related to pharmaceuticals saw higher turnover in March to December 2020 compared with the same months of 2019. The manufacture of pharmaceutical preparations grew by 19.4%, while the wholesale of pharmaceutical goods grew by 13.5%.


While the bricks and mortar retail sector has suffered from enforced shop closures over the last year, other companies have benefited from the growth in online sales. The ONS report maintains that turnover growth in the other postal and courier activities (16%) and cargo handling (8.4%) industries could be related to the increase in online sales during the pandemic. However, it also notes that some of this change could be a result of stockpiling activity by business ahead of the EU exit.


The education and real estate sectors proved the most resilient sectors, according to the ONS definition. Half of the industries included in the analysis within these two sectors were resilient during the pandemic. At the other end of the scale, no industries in the hospitality and leisure sectors were classified as resilient, probably owing to COVID-19 restrictions throughout 2020.

After wholesale and retail, the transport and storage sector came in fourth place, with more than one in three (35.7) of industries in this sector proving resilient.

Ryan Barnett, Economics and Research Manager, Logistics UK, said: “Resilience has been the watchword of the logistics industry during the COVID-19 pandemic and it is encouraging to see that borne out by the results of this recent report from ONS. To be ranked among the five most resilient business sectors within the UK economy is no mean feat. Logistics workers are to be applauded for their commitment to keep supply chains moving during the most challenging of circumstances.”


Published On: 06/05/2021 17:00:55


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