Well, we got there. August is the final month of the meteorological summer and we are, meteorologically speaking, now in the hinterland between ice-cream and ice-on-the-windscreen. Remember those six days at the beginning of last month when Great Britain was, formally, 'tropical' (in that the temperature did not dip below 20 degrees over a period of five days and a few Brits took off their socks before donning their sandals)? It was also the most peculiar August in the history of mankind and the first reports on how it affected us all statistically are just in.
Maybe most peculiarly, UK house prices leapt small buildings in a single-bound, surging by almost 2 per cent in August alone. New figures just released by the Nationwide reveal that the cost of an average house (who lives in that?) rose to £224,123 from £220,935, the biggest monthly rise since 2004. On an annual basis prices were 3.7 per cent higher than this time in August 2019. Is this something to do with the 'bubble-effect'? You know, we couldn't visit others in their houses for three months, so we decided to buy them instead and pay over the odds for them. Economists (of course) had forecast a 0.5 per cent rise, but none of them hung their heads and resigned in shame. Instead they said they did not expect the surge in demand to last and had what they called 'significant doubts' about the sun rising tomorrow morning.
We were also reluctant to use public transport, so decided to buy new cars instead. Total applications for new and used cars processed by the UK’s largest credit check group Experian rose to 597,000 from July 1 to August 24, compared with 481,000 in the same period during 2019, a rise of just over 24 per cent and this is before we can even sport the revelationary September registration plates, when all new cars registered in the UK will carry the number 69 ... Tracee's absolute favourite. Is this anything to do with us looking for any news that doesn't begin with the letters 'CO' and finding inspiration in it? For example, a recovery tracker by the investment bank Jefferies showed that the UK was on track for a record 15 per cent GDP growth in the third quarter of this year, after the historic collapse by 20.2 per cent in the second quarter.
Flight activity rose to 30 per cent from 26 per cent and recruitment activity rose from 32 per cent to 34 per cent, but by far the biggest number is reserved for eating out. For a nation starved of eating out for so many decades and being forced to have grapefruit juice as a 'starter' for 30 years, followed by a ploughman's lunch (cheddar and a bit of bread), we have caught the gastro-pub-bug. Rather than putting up with scampi and chips in an eye-catchingly grubby basket at a pub, we Brits now delight in chargrilled diver-caught scallops in pancetta on crushed green peas, mint and Henwood-grown rocket whilst listening to live folk music by a local band called Astra. And in August we were doing it on the cheap. Spending on dining out jumped by more than 30 per cent in August, compared with July as people shamelessly took advantage of Rishi's dinners.
Figures from Barclaycard, which processes nearly 40 per cent of UK transactions, showed that spending on eating out between Mondays and Wednesdays increased by 34.2 per cent compared with July. The average transaction barely changed, being up to £11.91 (a starter in Hampshire) from £11.85 (a three course meal and Uber home in Gateshead), but these numbers do not include 00 Sunak's fresh brown plastic tenner. The Treasury estimates that the average claim was about £5 (half of what Michelle pays to valet park her Audi RS3) and an estimated 80 million claims were made at a total cost of £400 million.