The UK’s spending on dentists, dry cleaning, and prostitution jumped after its first lockdown

A dentist tends to a patient in Milton Keynes, UK.
A dentist tends to a patient in Milton Keynes, UK.
Image: REUTERS/Andrew Boyers
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The UK economy saw a partial recovery in the third quarter of 2020, according to the latest data released by Britain’s Office for National Statistics. The country’s gross domestic product grew by a record 16% between July and September, though it is still 8.6% less than what it was at the end of 2019.

Part of the growth was driven by increased consumer spending as strict coronavirus restrictions, imposed at the end of March and lasting for most of the second quarter, eased across the UK from June.

As broad categories, the largest contribution to consumer spending growth was in restaurants and hotels, where there was an increase of 566.3% compared to the second quarter. But they also spent money on getting their teeth fixed and their clothes cleaned.

Specific categories that saw the greatest jumps in spending, compared to the second quarter, are charted below. Note, while the increases are extreme, much of the spending is still below what it was in the first quarter of the year.

Only a handful of categories saw significantly lower spending in the third quarter: footwear repair fell by 50% compared to quarter two; spending on newspapers, books, and stationery dropped by 32%; consumption of major household appliances fell by 24%; and beer purchases were down by 15%.