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© Reuters. A shopper walks on Oxford Street in London

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By Andy Bruce

LONDON (Reuters) – British companies saw a slightly worsening hit to sales and jobs from the COVID-19 pandemic last month when the virus spread increasingly through the population, a Bank of England survey showed on Thursday.

Companies said the pandemic cut 16.1% on average from sales during the fourth quarter, the BoE said, more than the 15.3% hit pencilled in from November’s survey. They also saw a bigger hit to jobs.

The worsening conditions came last month despite positive news on COVID-19 vaccines and a relaxation of health restrictions in many parts of England.

On Wednesday the United Kingdom recorded more than 1,000 COVID-19 daily deaths for the first time since April as the government struggles to deal with a new, more infectious variant of the coronavirus.

Like previous editions, the latest BoE survey showed hospitality businesses have been hit especially hard by the pandemic.

Food and accommodation businesses thought the hit to jobs and sales from the pandemic would persist into at least 2022.

The BoE survey was conducted between Dec. 4 and Dec. 18 and was based on responses from 2,933 firms.

 

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