Yelp: Coronavirus Economic Impact Report

Updated March 27, 2020

If you'd like additional detail on how the economy is shifting, please contact us at [email protected]

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 and new home offices and gyms, and taking care of their health and beauty. 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 more than a hundredfold in just a couple of weeks.

With consumers looking to ensure they have enough food and water while avoiding infection risk from handling, many want to source their food closer to its source. The desire for food with less handling has lifted community-supported agriculture, farms, water stores, meat shops, and fruits and veggies stores (up 430%, 149%, 147%, 139%, and 123% in share of seasonally adjusted daily U.S. consumer actions since March 1). And as many people stay in their homes, food delivery services (up 95%) have gained while street vendors have fallen (down 42%).

This drive to avoid as much handling of items as possible extends to retail, causing a slump in used, vintage and consignment stores and thrift stores (down 64% and 38%).

The widespread mandate to establish distance from each other has reshaped how people interact with businesses. Several beauty services that can involve close contact with people or equipment that touches people have fallen, including day spas, tanning, waxing, and eyelash services (down 23%, 19%, 18%, and 16%). With tens of millions more people staying at home all day and leaving the car in the garage, parking and car washes are declining (down 63% and 50%). People who do need to leave their homes and don't have cars are avoiding public transportation, lifting taxis (up 166%).

Both professionals and buyers are shying away from home-improvement projects that aren't urgent, setting back roofing services and decks & railing services (down 85% and 66%). Meanwhile, broadband is essential for many people who are suddenly working from home, and spending all their leisure time at home, drawing interest to Internet service providers and television service providers (up 128% and 118%). And as we've seen in our previous reports, exercising outdoors is gaining relative to the perceived risk of gyms, many of which have closed, resulting in hunting and fishing supplies, hiking, and lakes all gaining interest (up 155%, 102%, and 93%). Home exercisers are flocking to fitness and exercise equipment (up 409%).

Meanwhile, the widespread economic fallout from the coronavirus, which resulted in 3.3 million Americans losing their jobs last week, is reflected in several signs of personal financial struggles: a rise in pawn shops (up 82%) and a fall in stores that cash checks and issue pay-day loans (down 20%).

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.

Three states with three of the biggest known outbreaks, New York, California, and Washington, have seen their economy shift the most along national coronavirus economy lines. The other biggest movers nationally are in the Northeast and Northwest. The states with the least movement include the Dakotas, with only sparse case counts, and Mississippi, where the number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus is growing quickly.

The Bigger the Outbreak, The Bigger the Impact on Business

Number of Cases

100

2000

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. Over the past week, the ratio of the rolling seven-day total of searches for dine-out options to the equivalent number of searches for dine-in options has again increased by more than tenfold. 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].

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 500 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 March 25.

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 Wednesday, March 25, and Thursday, March 26, 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 March 25. 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.