Shoppers wearing protective face masks walk through the rain on Oxford Street in London on June 18, 2020, as some non-essential retailers reopen from their coronavirus shutdown.

Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

The U.K. economy grew by less than expected in May, as the country began to gradually ease lockdown measures.

Official figures revealed Tuesday that GDP expanded by 1.8% in May on the month. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a monthly rebound of 5.5%.

“Despite this, the level of output did not recover from the record falls seen in March and April 2020 and has reduced by 24.5% compared with February 2020, before the full impact of the coronavirus,” the Office for National Statistics said in its release. 

The reading comes after a 20.4% monthly contraction in April, the country’s sharpest on record, during the height of its widespread coronavirus restriction measures which ravaged economic activity.

Over the three months to the end of May, GDP contracted by 19.1%. Throughout the 2008 recession, GDP shrunk by no more than 2.1% in a single quarter, the ONS highlighted.

“Manufacturing and house building showed signs of recovery as some businesses saw staff return to work,” said Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics.

“Despite this, the economy was still a quarter smaller in May than in February, before the full effects of the pandemic struck,” he added.

He highlighted that while the retail sector saw record online sales in May, many other areas of the economy remained in the “doldrums” and saw further declines as lockdown measures remained in place.

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This is a breaking news story and will be updated shortly.

Via CNBC