May was supposed to be the first month of Britain’s economic recovery, when some restrictions on business activity were eased after the near-total lockdown of April. Some economists predicted the economy would grow by 5.5 percent after contracting by nearly 7 percent in March and a further 20 percent in April. But the data announced Tuesday was greeted as a disappointment, showing just a 1.8 percent increase from the month before.

The British government allowed some manufacturing and construction activity to resume in mid-May, and output in both sectors rose by more than 8 percent. However, the larger services sector remained lackluster, growing by less than 1 percent from April, as about 16 percent of businesses reported having no revenue in the month.

The outlook for

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