Over the last few weeks, restaurants and retailers across the country have gradually reopened with limited capacity, plexiglass barriers, and other anti-Covid restrictions. According to a recent study of the review site Yelp, however, approximately 140,000 listed businesses that closed in March remained shut down in June. What’s more, 41 percent of those companies have closed for good. Retailers accounted for the highest number of closures at 27,000. Coronavirus lockdown measures also majorly hurt restaurants, with 53 percent of closed eateries saying that they will not reopen.
“By far, retail shopping was hit the hardest,” said Justin Norman, a data scientist at Yelp. “When you look at those two top categories, we’re potentially never going to see some of these businesses again.” Other sectors such as beauty stores and fitness centers have done surprisingly well during the pandemic by staying connected to customers through virtual events. Nevertheless, a quarter of currently closed businesses in both categories will remain shut for good.
At the same time, Yelp saw an enormous increase in searches for black-owned businesses following widespread national protests against racial injustice. In the three weeks after the May 25th death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the company recorded more than 222,000 searches for black-owned businesses. Three weeks prior to that, users conducted fewer than 9,000 searches. User reviews mentioning black ownership also increased by 426 percent, and Yelp recently added a feature that allows people to find businesses that classify themselves as black-owned.
- Why do you think retailers and restaurants have been hit hardest during the pandemic?
- Why has Yelp seen a dramatic increase in searches for black-owned businesses on its platform?
Source: Matt Grossman, “140,000 Businesses Listed on Yelp Are Still Closed Because of Covid-19 Pandemic,” The Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2020.