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Yelp Economic Report Shows Signs of Business Recovery in Q1 2021

  • Yelp Economic Average report for the first quarter of 2021 shows strong growth in new businesses at the start of the year
  • Restaurant and food service businesses post major gains, along with home and auto services
  • Consumers show renewed interest in resuming pre-pandemic activities

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

New business openings in the first quarter of 2021 were at their highest level in the past 12 months, according to a recent report by Yelp. The report also showed that consumers are renewing interest in pre-pandemic activities as COVID-19 cases decline, vaccinations proceed, and business restrictions are loosened.

The Q1 Yelp Economic Average report determined that 146,486 new businesses opened in the United States during the quarter, a year-over-year drop of 2 percent but up 4 percent from Q1 2019. A total of 516,754 businesses opened between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, although this was down 11 percent on an annual basis.

A total of 69,000 restaurants and food businesses opened between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, a year-over-year drop of 14 percent. However, Q1 2021 had 18,217 openings in this sector, a 5 percent annual gain. Food delivery services saw the strongest growth, while hot pot restaurants, buffets, breweries, and other businesses catering more to group experiences experienced declines.

Home, professional, local, and auto businesses also saw pronounced growth. A total of 9,790 auto service businesses opened in Q1 2021, a 10 percent increase over Q1 2020.

With a strong real estate market and the pandemic spurring many families to relocate, consumers were particularly interested in home and moving services. Interest in real estate agents rose by 90 percent, and doubled for junk removal services, handymen, electricians, and architects.

Consumers interest also surged for many pre-pandemic activities and services, including nail salons, tour services, driving schools, child care, and art installation. Consumer interest in wedding chapels, fitness, guns and ammunition, and pet insurance waned over the course of the quarter.

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