New figures show the fragile state of the UK’s economic recovery after recent progress in the services sector stalled during June.
The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply’s (Cips) services survey showed an overall activity index of 51.6 – down from last month’s 51.7 when the sector notched its first month of growth since April last year.
The figures included a marginal contraction in new business levels, while Cips said job losses in the sector continued at a “severe” rate.
Cips chief executive David Noble said: “The services sector is showing signs of life but it is still too early to tell if this is the start of a full blown recovery. Consumer spending remains fragile and firms are being forced to slash prices in order to attract customers, even though their input costs continue to rise.”
The UK economy contracted by 2.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 – the biggest fall in more than 50 years – but surveys have pointed to stabilisation in the manufacturing and service sectors, as well as the housing market.
The services sector has a huge impact on official gross domestic product (GDP) growth figures, because of its pivotal place in the economy.
The 2.4 per cent slump was much more than expected, with much of the contraction driven by an acceleration in the decline in services.
The sector, which saw output fall 1.6 per cent from a drop of 0.8 per cent the previous quarter, was pushed lower by a significant drop in business services having been hit hard by the banking crisis and credit crunch.
Capital Economics said the recent findings from Cips were consistent with services sector growth of 0.4 per cent in the second quarter.
Cips said employment in the services economy fell for a 14th successive month, with the rate of contraction being steeper and slightly faster than in May.