Last year, the UK's economy expanded at the fastest rate since World War II, despite a milder-than-expected hit in December.

The 7.5% growth rate was the highest since 1941, and Britain will be the fastest-growing advanced economy in 2021. The spread of the Omicron variant kept consumers at home, causing the GDP to fall 0.2% in December.

The statistics will be welcomed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is dealing with a severe cost-of-living issue and is under pressure to resign over alleged rule-breaking parties during the country's lockdown. They will also keep the Bank of England focused on attempts to curb rising inflation, with more interest-rate hikes expected in the coming months.

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After suffering a deeper pandemic recession than its major peers, shrinking 9.4% in 2020, the UK has experienced a stronger recovery, aided by billions of pounds in government funding to support employment and businesses through the crisis. This year, the economy is expected to surpass the other Group of Seven nations once more.

"The economy has been remarkably resilient as a result of our package of support and making the right calls at the right time," according to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.

However, Britain is yet to recover to pre-pandemic quarterly output levels, a milestone already surpassed by the US and France.

The 0.5% contraction in the services sector, where hospitality venues were affected by large cancellations in the run-up to Christmas, and retailers suffering a drop in footfall after the government implemented measures to contain the spread of Omicron, was completely responsible for the December GDP decline.