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Yelp: New business openings above pre-pandemic levels

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The vast majority of local U.S. businesses that temporarily closed during the pandemic have reopened as of Sept. 30, 2021.

Businesses related to beauty, hospitality and leisure are helping to drive growth in new businesses overall.

That’s according to the most recent Yelp Economic Average  report, a benchmark of local economic strength in the United States, which found that new business openings for the first three quarters of 2021 are above pre-pandemic levels.  The total number of new businesses opened in the first nine months of 2021 was 439,094, which is above pre-pandemic levels (433,243) for the same period in 2019.

The Yelp findings, which revealed that the increases in both new business openings and consumer interest reflect consumer demand for leisure activities that were upended by early pandemic restrictions.

Beauty added 11,029 new businesses in the third quarter of 2021, a 7% increase from the year-ago period. Also trending above third quarter 2020 levels were teeth whitening (295, up 132% ) body contouring (654, up 184%), eyebrow services (796, up 49%) and permanent makeup (729, up 62%).

The report reveals the vast majority (85%) of U.S. businesses that temporarily closed during the pandemic have reopened as of September 30, 2021

Specifically, 83% of the restaurants and food businesses that were temporarily closed at the start of the pandemic have reopened as of Sept. 30, 2021.

New restaurant and food business openings remained steady, with 19,892 new openings to date this year, a 2% increase year-over-year. As diners return to indoor dining, new business openings for food courts (64 new business openings, up 166%) and buffets (54, up 200%) increased above 2020 levels.

“We are seeing local businesses successfully adapt to serve their communities amidst continued uncertainty caused by the ongoing pandemic,” said Justin Norman, Yelp’s VP of data science. “The strong number of reopened businesses combined with the high volume of new business openings is evidence that the economy continues to recover from pandemic lows. As people return to activities that were most impacted by pandemic restrictions, like dining out, going to the gym or socializing at a bar, we expect to see this pent up demand create new opportunities for local businesses.”

Read the full report, as well as previous YEA reports, here.


Openings are determined by counting new businesses listed on Yelp, which are added by either business representatives or Yelp users. Openings are adjusted year-over-year, meaning openings are measured relative to the same time period in the previous period for the same business categories and geographic locations. This adjustment corrects for both seasonality and any differences in the baseline level of Yelp coverage in any given category and geography.


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