The UK economy suffered its biggest slump on record between April-June as the effects of the pandemic triggered an official recession for the first time since the economic crisis of 2009.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the economy shrank a record 20.4% compared with the first three months of the year. The figure is far worse than many other major European countries.
The UK, heavily reliant on the service sector and consumer spending, saw household spending plummet during the lockdown, while factory and construction output also fell.
Meanwhile, the fall in employment during the April to June quarter was also the steepest since 2009 with 730,000 jobs lost.
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Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the BBC “hard times are here” and that the government was “grappling with something that is unprecedented”. He admitted the economic slump will lead to more job losses but said the Conservative government is not planning to extend its furlough scheme of job subsidies, which is set to wrap after October.
The entertainment sector has suffered along with many others. Cinema chains, theaters and music venues have been closed for months and most major film and TV productions, which bring significant inward investment, have been on hold.
Change is coming, however. Today Odeon, the UK’s largest cinema chain, announced it will reopen 70 more UK cinemas in time for the much-awaited release of Tenet at the end of the month. The re-openings will include Odeon’s Luxe Leicester Square venue. 29 Odeon cinemas had already opened with social distancing, protocols and obligatory mask-wearing.
Yesterday, the UK’s third-largest chain Vue said it would re-open all sites in two phases: Friday, August 21 and Wednesday, August 26.
Box office, which was worth $1.6BN last year, has been weak since a limited number of cinemas re-opened because studios have pushed tentpoles and public uncertainty over the virus remains.
Meanwhile, London’s Bridge Theatre is hoping to host new David Hare play Beat The Devil as early as next month, which would make it one of the first significant stage plays to take place since the lockdown.
As the UK faces its biggest economic challenge in a decade, the entertainment sector will continue to be hit hard by ongoing uncertainty, closures and job losses. But for the first time in some months, there is a glimmer of light on the horizon.
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