UK GDP growth accelerated at the start of the year, new data published on Friday showed.
GDP grew by 0.5% in the first quarter of 2019, an initial estimate from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed. The figure was in line with economists’ consensus forecast for quarter-on-quarter.
The result marks an acceleration from the 0.2% GDP growth registered in the final three months of the year.
“The strength in quarterly growth is in part due to the low December 2018 monthly growth in the base period, which makes the current period look stronger in comparison,” the ONS said. “Having fallen by 0.3% in December 2018, there was offsetting strength in January 2019 as output increased by 0.5%, followed by a further increase of 0.2% in February 2019.”
Economists said ahead of the announcement that the boost to first quarter growth was likely in part down to Brexit stockpiling.
“Growth is forecast to have picked up to 0.5%, from 0.3%, reflecting strong consumer spending and a boost from Brexit stockpiling,” Conor Beakey an Economist at AIB, said in a note ahead of Friday’s numbers.
However, this boost is unlikely to last. Companies that have stockpiled goods will spend less on inventory in future quarters as they offload the surplus stock they have built up.
The UK economy grew by 1.8%% when the first quarter of 2019 was compared to the first quarter of 2018. This was in-line with economists forecasts and acceleration on the 1.4% annual growth recorded in the final three months of 2018.