Yelp: Coronavirus Economic Impact Report

Updated April 16, 2020

If you'd like additional detail on how the economy is shifting, please contact us at [email protected] or join our mailing list to receive an email when new reports are released.

Coronavirus is quickly reshaping every corner of the U.S. local economy — and Yelp data is reflecting the upheaval in real time.

Consumers are responding to fears of infection, social distancing recommendations, stay-at-home orders, and mandated business closures by changing their behavior around eating, shopping, planning their finances, managing their homes, new home offices and gyms, while taking care of their health and wellness. The changes, like the pandemic that spawned them, haven’t hit all of the U.S. in the same way, though every state now reflects, to some degree or another, the new reality of the coronavirus economy. And a big part of that shift is what and where Americans are eating—including a shift in the balance between dining in and dining out by three hundred times in just a month.

Restaurants that specialize in delivery and takeout appear to have weathered the storm better than food businesses that until a month ago were focused more on dining in. Chicken-wing places and pizzerias have gained (up 93% and 83% respectively in share of seasonally adjusted daily U.S. consumer actions since March 1), while French restaurants, tapas places, and hot-pot spots have dropped (down 59%, 60%, and 44%).

When consumers are buying food for their own preparation at home, they’re looking to stock up at local businesses with a range of provisions, or suppliers already set up to deliver. Community-supported agriculture businesses, grocery stores, produce stores, and butchers all are gaining share of the food business (up 579%, 123%, 124%, and 104%), while breweries, gelato places, and street vendors are struggling (down 68%, 43%, and 41%).

As people settle in for the long-haul at home, their interest in local goods and services begin to shift. More time at home means people are looking for ways to occupy their time, which has increased the share of interest in fitness and exercise equipment, firewood, pet breeders, and television service providers (up 424%, 311%, 182%, and 52%). More consumers are also turning to tobacco shops, cannabis clinics, and vape shops (up 85%, 103%, and 103%) in these anxious times. Bridal stores and shopping centers are declining (down 63% and 70%). Cosmetic stores are up (179%) while people seek beauty regimens they can implement at home, while day spas are down (15%).

Staying at home doesn't mean forgoing leisure and arts. Strip clubs and art galleries have gained (up 88% and 55%); businesses in both categories have found ways to adapt to the new economic climate, by using virtual platforms to connect with customers in their homes.

The economic fallout is playing out in shifting interest in financial categories. Mortgage lenders have gained consumer interest (up 82%), as have various kinds of insurance businesses (life, auto, home and rental, by 22% to 25%), as the need for insuring for unexpected events becomes more clear. Tax services are down (40%) since the extension of the tax-filing deadline was announced.

The pandemic has also left its mark on health and wellness categories. Rising interest in blood and plasma donation centers and skilled nursing (up 145% and 131%), and a decline in interest in reflexology and massage therapy (down 46% and 33%), reflect people’s prioritization of volunteering and home care over in-person elective treatment that involves human contact.

Categories That Are Rising

Categories That Are Falling

Local economies have shifted in line with the national moves, matching the rise and fall of categories nationwide.

Northeast states have seen the biggest shifts as the pandemic devastates New York State and, to a lesser extent, neighboring states including New Jersey and Connecticut. Michigan, the site of the biggest Midwest outbreak, also has seen its economy transformed. Things haven't changed as much in the Mountain States and the Southeast—including in Florida and Georgia, sites of two of the nation's largest outbreaks.

The Bigger the Outbreak, The Bigger the Impact on Business

Number of Cases

1000

10000

Impact on Consumer Interest

Low

High

Nationally, when people order restaurant food, it’s overwhelmingly at home. Searches for delivery or takeout have accelerated relative to searches for dine-in options that until recently were prevalent. The shift started when people were first encouraged to avoid crowds, and accelerated when restaurants in some jurisdictions were ordered to shut their doors and offer only takeout and delivery options. It reflects both a large increase in interest in delivery and a large decrease in interest in holding a seat at restaurants.

Delivery and Take-Out are Replacing Dine-In

If you'd like additional detail on how the economy is shifting, please contact us at [email protected] or join our mailing list to receive an email when new reports are released.

Methodology

Business Category Changes

To pinpoint how the coronavirus is affecting the economy, we looked at which types of businesses (categories) have risen or fallen in interest relative to others in the same general line of business (root categories). So, for instance, we compare French restaurants, dim sum places, and pizzerias to each other, in terms of their share of all interest for restaurants.

Our measure of interest is consumer interest, measured in terms of daily U.S. counts of a few of the many actions people take to connect with businesses on Yelp: viewing business pages or posting photos or reviews.

We started with the biggest U.S. categories by consumer actions. Among those, we selected the biggest gainers and biggest decliners in terms of their seasonally adjusted share of all root category consumer actions since March 1. Then we chose representative ones to show the trend, which we’re charting from March 1 through April 13.

Map

Which states are most closely reflecting the coronavirus economy at the national level? To check, we looked at the cumulative change in seasonally adjusted consumer-action share by state for the categories that had the biggest national rises and declines. The more these indicators of the coronavirus effect moved within each state since March 11, which is when major local economic shifts began, the more that state’s economy transformed in response to the coronavirus. We’re mapping the economic impact alongside the scope of the outbreak, with the measures updated through Monday, April 13, and Tuesday, April 14, respectively.

Dine In vs. Dine Out

Consumers often indicate their intent when searching for restaurants by choosing filters for places that offer Yelp Reservations and Waitlist for dining in, or delivery and takeout for dining out. We’ve been tracking this measure nationally every day to see how restaurant meals are moving into the home, and chart its progression from March 1 through April 13. The data is calculated on a rolling seven-day basis, and compared to the level on March 8.

Downloadable static graphics can be found here.

See Yelp's previous Coronavirus Economic Impact Reports at our Data Science Medium, Locally Optimal.