The internet saved the economy. Or at least the British consumers’ obsession with all things internet. Oh, and a property boom that has filled estate agents’ pockets.
That’s the only conclusion one can draw from the figures for GDP growth in the final quarter of 2015, which show that galloping services sector output more than made up for the damage done to factory orders by the downturn in global trade and the strictures placed by George Osborne on government spending.
Transport, storage and communications, which is a major category in the Office for National Statistics GDP data, has soared in recent times. The communications sector is all about broadband and mobile phones. What do customers like about their broadband – that it delivers TV and internet. And what do they like about smartphones these days if it isn’t the huge amounts of data bundled with their monthly package.
The ONS said computer programming, consultancy and related activities, most of which will be directed towards developing web-based services, increased by 7.6% during the last quarter.
Another category – distribution, hotels and restaurants – also outstripped the average 0.7% quarterly growth rate for services. The distribution element is powered by the internet as firms increase the already vast sums spent making sure deliveries of food, books and household goods arrive the next day, as demanded by ever more exacting customers.
The ONS highlights “wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, which increased by 10.5%”. Private cars sales have soared in recent years, but it is the servicing of cars and vans used in the growing internet deliveries business that is the real spur in this area.
A rise in the category “business services and finance” is mostly fuelled by real estate activities, which increased by 2.7% and not so much the City, which continues to suffer the after-effects of the 2008 banking crash.