Europeans return to workplace but reduce leisure activity

European schoolchildren’s return to the classroom has boosted their parents’ office attendance, but leisure activity has begun to fall as fresh coronavirus-related restrictions hold back the economic recovery in the continent’s services sector, data suggest.

Alternative economic data such as travel volumes, visits to entertainment venues and restaurant bookings indicate that the resurgence in infections is choking off earlier signs of revival in the most affected industries.

But the reopening of schools across the continent for the start of the autumn term has helped boost the number of people travelling into their workplaces and public transport use is rising in many cities.

“Decelerating high-frequency data point to ebbing economic momentum,” said Ludovico Sapio, economist at Barclays. A sustained recovery in domestic demand has “yet to materialise” and any recovery is likely to be “all the more fragile and protracted” given the resurgence of Covid-19 cases, he said.

Since the onset of the pandemic, alternative economic data have become a widely-watched early indicator, although their link with official statistics is uncertain.

This is especially so as changes in output have become smaller and harder to measure accurately than the massive drop-off in…

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