As COVID-19 continues to spread, many states are pausing or rolling back their reopenings, forcing restaurants across the country to reevaluate their plans. While some restaurants have adapted since March, offering takeout and outdoor-only dining, those without the luxury of outdoor space or takeout-friendly food are now being forced to permanently shutter at an alarming rate. According to Yelp's most recent Economic Average report, 60% of restaurants previously marked as "temporarily closed" have now closed their doors for good.
The report also reveals a very clear correlation between increased interest in Yelp businesses such as restaurants, bars, and gyms, and new COVID-19 cases. As restrictions have decreased and activity has increased, Yelp has identified hot spots for new cases in Florida, Nevada, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, and other states that match with high levels of attendance at Yelp businesses.
But as some states pull back on reopening and the future of small businesses becomes even murkier, temporary closures are becoming permanent ones at a staggering rate. Of all the business hit hard during this pandemic, the restaurant industry now has the highest number of permanent closures with 15,770 restaurants shuttered for good as of July 10. Right behind the restaurant industry is the bar and nightlife industry with 44% of temporary closures becoming permanent. The states with the highest percentages of closures at the time of Yelp's report are Hawaii, Nevada, California, and Arizona — with most business owners citing recent COVID-19 outbreaks and high rent among the reasons for closing for good.
Yelp did, however, find one positive in this sea of closures: search for Black-owned businesses is at an all-time high. Search for all Black-owned businesses is up 7,043% from last year with searches up for everything from Black-owned restaurants (up 2,508%) to Black-owned ice cream shops (up 161%).