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British economy in 2020 saw greatest decline since 1700s, figures show

British economy in 2020 saw greatest decline since 1700s, figures show
Empty streets and closed businesses are seen in downtown London, Britain, on March 27, 2020, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a national lockdown to control the coronavirus pandemic. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The British economy during 2020 -- which was severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic and related lockdowns -- saw its greatest yearly decline since the 1700s, government figures showed on Friday.

According to the statistics from Britain's Office of National Statistics, gross domestic product contracted by 9.9% last year -- the greatest decline in more than 300 years, according to the Bank of England.

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The British economy showed small growth (1%) over the final three months of 2020 -- well below its performance in the final quarter of 2019 -- and 16.1% growth in the third quarter.

The first half of 2020, however -- which saw the arrival of the pandemic and sweeping restrictions nationwide that affected economic performance -- brought significant losses.

The economy contracted by about 3% in the first quarter and a record 19% in the second, the report shows.

According to the Bank of England, the last time Britain saw such an economic decline was 1709, when GDP contracted 13% for the year that included a bitter winter called the Great Frost. The economy lost 9.7% in 1921 following World War I.

The 2020 decline effectively wiped out all economic gains in Britain made after 2013, which was the last time GDP was at its present size.

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By comparison, France's economy declined by 8.3% for 2020, Italy by 8.8% and Germany 5%.

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