140,000 Businesses Listed on Yelp Are Still Closed Because of Covid-19 Pandemic

Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco were the cities with the most closed businesses as of June 15. Shut businesses in Los Angeles on June 21.

Photo: Image Of Sport/Zuma Press

The majority of businesses that closed during the Covid-19 pandemic remained shut this month as the crisis continued to upend commerce, according to data from review site Yelp Inc.

Roughly 140,000 Yelp-listed businesses that had closed since March 1 remained closed on June 15. A large minority of that set, 41%, has shut for good, according to Yelp.

The figures have improved by about 20% compared with April data, when 175,000 businesses were closed. But the large share of persistent closures, which were spread nationwide, showed the pandemic’s stubborn hindrance to life as normal even as all 50 states have taken steps to reopen.

Number of businesses listed on Yelp that are marked temporarily or permanently closed*



*Among U.S. businesses that were open on March 1
Note: Closures updated through June 15. Data might lag actual closures because of time to report and verify closures.

Source: the company

Among business categories, retail stores had the highest number of total closures: more than 27,000. Restaurants, meanwhile, had an especially high share of permanent closures, with 53% of closed restaurants saying they won’t reopen, according to Yelp.

“By far, retail shopping was hit the hardest,” said Justin Norman, Yelp’s vice president of data science, noting that stores and restaurants face significant challenges implementing social distancing. “When you look at those two top categories, we’re potentially never going to see some of these businesses again,” Mr. Norman said.

Other sectors, including beauty shops and fitness centers, have performed better than expected, Mr. Norman said. He attributed the surprise to some businesses’ creative ways of staying connected with customers, such as by offering virtual events.

Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco were the cities with the most closed businesses as of June 15, according to Yelp. Las Vegas had the highest share of closed businesses relative to its total number of companies.

Meanwhile, a wave of protests against racial injustice has coincided with a broad surge of interest in black-owned businesses across the country, Yelp data show. In the three weeks after May 25, when Mr. Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, there were more than 222,000 searches for black-owned businesses on Yelp, compared with fewer than 9,000 in the previous three weeks. User reviews mentioning black ownership increased by 426% in the period.

More recently, Yelp has added a function that allows users to seek out businesses self-identified as black-owned, Mr. Norman said. But the jump in searches for the topic appeared before the new feature was released, he added.

Searches on Yelp for black-owned businesses jumped to 222,000 in the three weeks after George Floyd was killed by police. A Black Lives Matters Business Expo in St. Petersburg, Fla., on June 19.

Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Areas with a high level of interest in black-owned businesses included Washington, D.C., Minnesota and Georgia, all sites of intense racial-equality protests recently.

Atlanta Breakfast Club, a restaurant in Atlanta, has seen more customers who are interested in its status as a black-owned business in recent weeks, according to Kelsey Maynor, a manager at the restaurant.

“I’ve seen several fliers with us listed as one of the black-owned brunch and breakfast spots,” Mr. Maynor said. “The two questions people often ask us are whether we are open, and whether we are black-owned.” More customers than before are asking now, Mr. Maynor added.

Heidi Moy, a legal assistant in New York, told The Wall Street Journal that she has been using Yelp and Instagram to research black-owned businesses in lower Manhattan. The search led her to Omar’s Kitchen and Rum Bar, a restaurant on the Lower East Side, which she praised in a five-star Yelp review earlier this month.

“Order some delicious Caribbean food to support the black community? You don’t have to ask this foodie twice!” Ms. Moy wrote.

Write to Matt Grossman at matt.grossman@wsj.com