Business confidence improving

Business confidence improving: BDO

  • The Optimism Index increased by 1.7 points this month following its 21-year low reading in January. The Index increased to 90.6 in February from a reading of 88.9 in January – the biggest increase in the index for five months.
  • Despite this increase, businesses still do not anticipate growth in the next two quarters
  • The Inflation Index increased from 100.4 in January to 101.5 in February, its highest level since September 2012.
  • The Output Index saw a decrease from 92.3 last month to 92.1 this month


Shop price inflation

Shop Price Index: BRC

  • Overall shop price inflation rose to 1.1% in February from 0.6% in January.
  • Food inflation fell to 3.5% in February from 4.0% in January.
  • Non-food prices fell 0.4% in February compared with a 1.4% fall in January

European women and employment

European women and employment: Eurostat

  • Almost a third of women and 5% of men having a young child worked part-time in 2011
  • In 2011, a third of managers in the EU27 were women.
  • More female than male teachers in primary and upper secondary education but fewer female than male academic staff in tertiary education
  • Highest proportions of part-time work amongst women with children in the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom
  • Flexible working hours most used in the Nordic Member States

European GDP down

European GDP: Eurostat

  • GDP fell by 0.6%  in the euro area (EA17) and by 0.5% in the EU27 during the fourth quarter of 2012, compared with the previous quarter. In the third quarter of 2012, growth rates were -0.1% and +0.1% respectively.
  • Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, GDP fell by 0.9% in the euro area and by 0.6% in the EU27 in the fourth quarter of 2012, after -0.6% and -0.4% respectively in the previous quarter.
  •  Over the whole year 2012, GDP fell by 0.6% in the euro area and by 0.3% in the EU27.

European retail trade rises

European Retail Trade: Eurostat

  • In January 2013 compared with December 2012, the volume of retail trade rose by 1.2% in the euro area (EA17) and by 0.9% in the EU27
  • In December 2012 retail trade fell by 0.8% and 0.7% respectively.
  • In January 2013 compared with January 2012, the retail sales index dropped by 1.3% in the euro area and by 0.9% in the EU27

Growth forecast reduced

Economic Forecast: BCC 

  • BCC downgrades its growth forecasts: from 1.0% to 0.6% in 2013, and from 1.8% to 1.7% in 2014
  • Prospects should improve in the medium term: in 2015, BCC forecasts growth of 2.2%
  • Unemployment forecast is 50,000 lower than in December
  • Public sector borrowing is forecast at £89.7bn in 2012/13, £9.2bn higher than the OBR predicted in December 2012

Changing lifestyles

General Lifestyle Survey: ONS

  • Since 1971 household size declined from 2.91 persons to 2.35 in 2011
  • The proportion of adults living alone has almost doubled in the last 40 years, between 1973 and 2011 (9% and 16%), with the increase occurring in the first 30 years (1973 to 1998). Adults aged 25-44 were five times more likely to be living alone in 2011 (10%) than they were in 1973 (2%).
  • Over the last 30 years, since 1979, the proportion of women aged 18-49 who were married has fallen by a third (74% in 1979 to 47% in 2011), while the proportion cohabiting has tripled (11% in 1979 to 34% in 2011).
  • Although cigarette smoking has halved over the last 37 years (from 45% in 1974 to 20% in 2011) the number of cigarettes smoked by men and women has changed little since the early 1980s.
  • The proportion of men and women drinking on 5 or more days a week fell from 23% of men in 1998 to 16% in 2011 and from 13% to 9% of women. Men and women aged 45 and over are more likely to drink on 5 or more days a week than younger people.
  • Forty years ago only half of all households had access to a car or van (52% in 1942), in 2011 this had increased to three-quarters (76%). Over this period households with access to a single car or van has remained similar (44% in 2011), but the proportion of households with access to multiple cars has trebled (9% in 1972 and 32% in 2011).
  • Access to a home computer has risen continuously between 1984 and 2011, from 9% of households to 80%.