Widespread business and public service closures put Britain’s economy on hold.


On Monday, as Queen Elizabeth II is laid to rest, much of Britain will pause.

The day has been designated a public holiday, but the sweeping closures of public services and corporate activity are more extensive than on other holidays as 10 days of collective mourning come to an end. Alongside the sudden shuttering of schools and many workplaces, non-urgent medical appointments in the backlogged National Health Service have been canceled and a vast array of businesses including restaurants, gyms and stores will be shut.

“As a mark of respect, and in order to allow our team members the opportunity to join the national mourning” most Boots stores, a large chain of drugstores, will be closed on Monday, the company said in a statement. Tesco, Britain’s largest supermarket chain, is shutting all of its large stores for the day alongside most other major supermarkets. Even McDonald’s is closing all of its restaurants across Britain until 5 p.m.

Chain stores selling clothes and household goods will mostly be closed, as will London’s luxury department stores, including Harrods. Still, some parts of normal British life will go on, as many pubs have said they will remain open.

Public holidays tend to disrupt the economy and lead to a slowdown in economic growth statistics for the month they are in. With Britain already suffering from a stagnating economy amid an energy crisis and 40-year high inflation, the interruption to activity on Monday could be enough to tip the country into a recession, with two consecutive quarters of economic contraction, analysts have said.

“The slow start” to the third quarter, when the economy grew just 0.2 in July from the previous month, and the extra holiday, “should put the economy on course for a technical recession — albeit a marginal one,” an analyst at Deutsche Bank wrote in a research note last week.

When the period of mourning ends and something closer to normality resumes on Tuesday, the pressing questions of how households and businesses get through the winter and how the government can brighten Britain’s gloomy economic outlook, which is troubling investors, will return with full force.



Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/19/world/europe/widespread-business-and-public-service-closures-put-britains-economy-on-hold.html