London: Britain went into recession at the end of last year for the first time since 1991, official data showed on Friday, with the economy shrinking at its fastest pace since 1980, official data showed on Friday.
The Office for National Statistics said the economy shrank by 1.5% in the fourth quarter of last year, the biggest drop since the deep recession of 1980.
Analysts had forecast the economy would contract by 1.2% in the quarter and by 1.4% compared with a year ago.
The decline was driven by a sharp contraction in both services and production activity. The services sector, which accounts for three-quarters of economic output shrank by 1.0% in the fourth quarter, the fastest pace since 1979.
Production fell by 3.9% in the quarter, the biggest fall since 1980.
Separately the ONS published retail sales data for December. However, it did not publish much of the usual seasonally-adjusted data for the month. It said exceptional circumstances, such as the VAT cut, heavy discounting by retailers and a 5-week statistical period had skewed the data.
Still, it said that on a rough estimate, seasonally adjusted sales volumes rose by 1.6 percent in December, taking the annual increase to 4.0%.