Tim Moore, the economics director at IHS Markit, which compiled Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) data, said April figures pointed to an economic downturn that could be "deeper and more widespread than anything seen in living memory."
"The April survey reading is consistent with the economy falling at a quarterly rate of approximately 7%, but we expect the actual decline in GDP could be even greater, in part because the PMI excludes the vast majority of the self-employed and the retail sector," he said.
April data indicated the lowest drop in UK service sector activity since the survey began in 1996. It fell to 13.4 in April from 34.5 in March to signal a rapid decline in UK service sector output. Prior to the last two months, the survey-record low stood at 40.1 in 2008.