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UK Card Spending Rises to Highest Since Christmas

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British households spending on credit and debit cards rose strongly to 88 of its prepandemic average in the week to April 1, its highest since the week before Christmas, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday.

The figures are not seasonally adjusted, and the ONS said some of the increase was driven by endofmonth spending on households bills and food shopping.

But they add to signs that the economy is beginning to pick up as coronavirus restrictions being to ease following the rollout of vaccines to more than half of Britains adult population.

Payment processor Barclaycard said on Wednesday that spending at golf courses jumped fivefold last week after they reopened to the public, and also reported more contactless payments which it linked to people buying picnic supplies.

Construction activity last month recorded its biggest jump since 2014, as businesses restarted mothballed projects in anticipation of shops, pubs and restaurants reopening next week, and recruiters reported the biggest increase in hiring of permanent staff in six years.

This week the International Monetary Fund revived up its growth forecast for Britain this year to 5.3, but it does not see Britains economy recovering its precrisis size until next year, much slower than the U.S. and Japanese economies.

The Bank of England expects rapid initial growth but has warned that there could be a long overhang of unemployment and underemployment after government support is withdrawn.

The ONS said…

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