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Pandemic and uncertainty but no time to panic

15 June 2020

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics showed the damage to the economy wrought by the pandemic. GDP fell by 20.4% in April, following a fall of 5.8% in March.

This is an unprecedented slump, in more ways than one. First, it’s a much steeper decline than even during the recession. But it stands apart also because, while it’s a big drop, it doesn’t reflect an underlying trend. It’s the very definition of a one-off event. The only uncertainty is we don’t know when the ‘event’ will end, or whether it will ebb and flow or disappear as abruptly as it arrived.

But, if you look a little below the surface, you can see the economy moving ahead at pace, particularly in the logistics sector.

Recent weeks have seen the completion of major warehouses for AO.com, Europa Warehouse and more. The 715,000 sq ft Europa facility in Corby, in particular, looks a belter, with three mezzanine floors and VNA racking to 18 metres.

It is to the great credit of those working on these projects that they have managed to safely power on despite the pandemic. It shows how flexible and productive we can be in the face of this challenge.

Therefore, I wouldn’t get too carried away by the ONS figures.

In a similar vein, I am not too encouraged by the drop in carbon emissions and pollution over the last few months. Obviously this does not mean we have suddenly turned a corner and become more green. Yes, maybe we will appreciate the cleaner air and change our attitudes but in the short term, it is obvious that as the economy returns to normal, as it must, so will pollution and emission levels return to the higher levels we saw before the pandemic.