Yelp: 61 Percent of Restaurants Closed Due to Pandemic Won’t Open Again

by John Nelson

SAN FRANCISCO — A majority of U.S. restaurants and cafés that closed their doors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will remain closed for good, according to crowd-source review giant Yelp.

In its September economic impact report, the San Francisco-based firm tallied 32,109 restaurants that were open and operating on March 1 were closed on Aug. 31. Of that total, 19,590 (61 percent) indicated they were permanently closed.

Yelp tracks business closures via business owners marking their business as closed, including by changing their hours or through a COVID-19 banner on its Yelp page.

The tech firm concedes that closure counts are likely an estimate as businesses not included in the report include those that remain open with curtailed hours and staffing, or because they have not yet updated their Yelp business pages to reflect closures.

Yelp only counts closures that have been vetted by its User Ops team or have been updated directly by a business owner.

According to Yelp’s findings, breakfast and brunch restaurants, burger joints, sandwich shops, dessert places and Mexican restaurants are among the types of restaurants with the highest rate of business closures.

Restaurants that work well for delivery and takeout — such as pizza places, delis, food trucks, bakeries and coffee shops — have been able to keep their closure rates lower, and some are seeing increasing sales. Papa John’s reports its same-store sales in North America increased 28 percent in the second quarter, and Wingstop also saw its sales grow 31.9 percent year-over-year in the second quarter.

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Outside of restaurants, Yelp also found that a majority of bars and nightlife establishments that closed due to the pandemic will remain shuttered. There were 6,451 total business closures as of the end of August, with 3,499 (58 percent) indicated to be permanent.

Similarly, Yelp reports that 58 percent of retail stores will remain closed permanently. Of the 30,374 stores closed, 17,503 are permanent. Among the retail categories most affected are beauty and spas, men and women’s apparel, home decor and fitness, according to Yelp.

— John Nelson

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