Yelp Report Reveals Trends Regarding COVID-19 And The Restaurant Industry

By Jessica Maurer, posted Jul 29, 2020
Yelp, the San Francisco-based company that connects people with local businesses across the nation, released its second quarter economic average report last week.  

The report revealed several second quarter trends, including a correlation between increased interest in businesses that draw crowds and a spike in COVID-19 cases in hotspot states. The report reflects data collected from both businesses and users of Yelp’s website and app.
In March, Yelp reported an unsurprising drop in consumer activity across the nation. By May, as some states started to see consumer activity returning to pre-pandemic levels, a rise in COVID-19 cases followed.

Yelp’s economic average report found a statistically significant correlation between the increase of consumer interest in restaurants, bars and nightlife and gyms in May, and a rise in COVID-19 cases in June.

The report showed other trends.
“As U.S. cities struggle to balance reopening their local economies and avoid becoming the next COVID-19 hotspot, we’ve seen U.S. business closure data reflect an unstable economy,” said Justin Norman, Yelp’s vice president of data science. “Yelp data found a decrease in total business closures [marked as closed on Yelp], but the rate of permanent closures has actually risen 14% between June 15 and July 10.” 

While Yelp did not provide data specific to the Wilmington area, the company reported that the Charlotte metro area endured 911 total business closures (both temporary and permanent) between March 1 and July 10, and 540 businesses were marked as permanently closed as of July 10. Of those 540 businesses, 94 are restaurants.

In the Triangle, (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) the number of business closures (both temporary and permanent) between March 1 and July 10 was 706, with 382 marked as permanently closed as of July 10. Total restaurant closures for this area were not available.
Nationally, the restaurant industry now reflects the highest total business closures, recently surpassing retail, according to the report. As of July 10, there have been 26,160 total restaurant closures, of which 60% have permanently closed, resulting in 15,770 permanent closures. 

Meanwhile, bars and nightlife, an industry that is six times smaller than the restaurant industry, have endured an especially high closure rate, with 5,454 total business closures, of which 44% are permanent.

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