The Office for National Statistics said on Friday that Britain's economy grew by a considerably stronger-than-expected 0.9% in November, ultimately surpassing its size right before the country entered its first COVID-19 lockdown.
According to the ONS, the world's fifth-largest economy grew by 0.7% in February 2020. "It's incredible to see the economy back to pre-pandemic levels in November – a testament to the British people's strength and determination," said finance minister Rishi Sunak.
Other economies, including the US, have already recovered their pre-COVID size.
Despite November's surge in growth, the Omicron coronavirus variant swept Europe in December, and the loss of momentum is likely to have continued into January, with many businesses reporting severe staff absences and consumers remained hesitant of going out.
However, health officials believe the Omicron infection wave in the UK has peaked, and analysts believe the economic impact will be short-lived, allowing the Bank of England to keep raising interest rates this year.
GDP in quarterly terms would reach or exceed its pre-coronavirus level in the October-December period of last year, according to the ONS, assuming that economic output does not decrease by more than 0.2% in December.
Architects, retailers, couriers, and accountants all had a good month in November, the ONS reported, while construction recovered from a string of weak months as raw materials became easier to obtain following global supply chain issues.
Even if the coronavirus restrictions are eased, the British economy will face challenges in the months ahead.
"While the UK economy should rebound once Plan B measures are dropped," Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said, "surging inflation and ongoing supply chain disruption may mean that the UK's economic growth outlook remains under pressure for most of 2022."