Story at a glance

  • Researchers found that, as of September, more businesses, like restaurants, have been able to reopen their doors.
  • This is in large part because of public health precautions, such as wearing masks and physical distancing, practiced in these venues.

Restaurants and bars were among the first businesses to feel the instant pain of the coronavirus-induced recession, with a quarterly report issued this summer saying that a staggering 60 percent of closed restaurants have shut down permanently.

Yelp’s third-quarter report tells an updated story with considerably more optimism for businesses working to survive amid the COVID-19 pandemic. New data released Thursday indicates that new food-based and restaurant businesses are opening closer in line to rates seen in 2018 and 2019.

In conjunction with slowing rates of unemployment, select areas of the local economy in the U.S. are “showing promising signs of adaptability,” Yelp researchers found. 


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Business closures stood at their worst in April as the virus forced shutdowns throughout the country, but a May rebound was spotted, showcasing a 29 percent average monthly increase in new restaurant openings.

This measure fell flat in August and September, with about 6,600 new restaurants opening monthly. In year-over-year terms, there were only 100 fewer restaurant openings in September compared to the same month last year. In quarter three, new openings are down by 10 percent compared to the past year.

Some of the most resilient food scenes are sporadically located across the country: Washington, D.C., Wyoming, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Rhode Island all saw at least two times the number of new restaurant openings in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the second. Yelp attributes this to individual community resilience.

States that saw the largest total number of new openings were densely populated, such as California, Florida, New York and Texas. 

While some businesses already established prior to the pandemic shut their doors for good, 210,000 have reopened since temporarily closing in March. Many of these reopenings occurred in September.

Other businesses that have seen significant reopenings include child care facilities, fitness arenas like kickboxing and martial arts, and beauty salons. 

The report authors note that health and safety precautions have been “critical” in helping businesses reopen safely and not propagate the virus spread. Many business owners have adapted to the pandemic by socially distancing customers and requiring mask regulations and hand sanitizer usage, as well as instituting outdoor seating options.


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Published on Oct 22, 2020