To be diplomatic about it, Yelp is not exactly beloved by the hospitality industry. Yet, we live in strange times and Yelp is ringing the alarm bell about an existential threat to bar and restaurants. A new study from the platform reported that 60%of the 26,160 temporarily closed restaurants and 55% of the 5454 temporarily closed bars contained in their Q2 survey are now permanently closed.
The report, a followup to an April study, stated that 132,500 businesses listed on the website are currently closed. Restaurants, brick and mortar retail, beauty & spas, bars & nightlife, and gyms were the led the list (in that order). Not surprisingly, online businesses and education services surged over the past couple of months.
California, Texas, New York, and Florida topped the closure list by state. The leaders amongst cities were Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago.
“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. Yelp data found a decrease in total business closures, but the rate of permanent closures has actually risen 14% between June 15 and July 10,” said Justin Norman, Yelp’s VP of Data Science. “Cities such as San Francisco and Honolulu, which have had some of the nation’s strictest stay-at-home orders, are now seeing the highest numbers of closures relative to the number of businesses in their respective cities.”
Yelp also fingered premature reopening as a direct cause of the so-called ‘summer surge’. “As people began resuming common pre-pandemic activities across states like Florida, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Georgia and others—specifically frequenting restaurants, bars and nightlife, and gyms—a clear spike in Covid-19 cases within those locations followed,” explained the study.
Yelp also offered some insights into the subcategories pithing the groups. For example, searches for Whiskey Bars (12%) and Beer Gardens (9%) are trending up. Karaoke (-32%) and Dance Clubs (-48%) are way down.
On a positive note, interest in black owned businesses spike during the same time period. “Since May 25, we’ve seen a 1785% relative increase in searches for Black-owned businesses, compared to the three weeks prior. Review mentions of “Black-owned” (and related terms) also skyrocketed, up 426%, as people look to support and surface these businesses to the community,” explained the study’s authors.