The reopening of restaurants, pubs and bars last month prompted Britain’s services sector to grow at its fastest rate in more than five years, according to a survey by IHS Markit.

The IHS Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the sector rose from 47.1 to 56.5 in July, now sitting above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

Around 38% of businesses said that activity rose in July, compared to a 7% low in April, whilst 24% said activity declined.

Despite the promising results, IHS Markit attributed the growth rate to the “extremely low base” that it started from, and said that the levels of activity were overwhelmingly linked to lockdown easing and the subsequent increase in consumer demand.

The survey also revealed that staffing numbers fell at a sharp pace in July, with the employment index coming in at 38.8, far below the 50 mark that signals jobs growth.

Tim Moore, economics director at HIS Markit said: “UK service providers are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel after a record slump in business activity during the second quarter of 2020.

“Higher levels of service sector output were almost exclusively linked to the reopening of the UK economy after lockdown measures and the subsequent return to work of employees and clients.”