Yelp data shows more than half million new businesses opened in the past year

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    YELPKevin Kahovec and Mary Kate McGovern chat at Rizzo’s Bar & Inn in Wrigleyville as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions are relaxed in Chicago, Illinois, March 6, 2021.Eileen T. Meslar | Reuters

    More than 500,000 new businesses opened across the United States in the past year, new data from Yelp showed, as the economy recovered from the depths of the Covid pandemic.

    In its Economic Average Report, released Wednesday and compiled from the listings on its service, Yelp saw 516,754 new business openings from April 1, 2020, through March 31, remarkably down only 11% year over year. About 28%, 146,486, were in the first three months of 2021, down just 2% from a year earlier.

    “Our data shows that more new businesses opened in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2021 than at any other period over the last 12 months, providing an optimistic outlook that local economies are back on solid ground after a tumultuous year,” Yelp data science vice president Justin Norman told CNBC. “After a challenging year, 2021 is off to an encouraging start for the local economy.”

    Yelp’s data found that more than 69,000 new restaurants and food businesses opened in the past year. While that’s down 14% from the prior year, it’s still strong given those businesses were among the hardest hit by the coronavirus lockdowns in the early days of 2020 and the subsequent virus mitigation measures.

    “It seems like the year-over-year rise in new business openings mirrors the current housing market frenzy,” Norman said. “People are inspired to take advantage of low rents and create new jobs by putting their personal savings towards starting a new business venture.”

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    Across the country, different states have seen different rates of reopening in the first quarter. But Yelp data found that every state except North Dakota saw a higher number of openings in Q1 than they did in the fourth quarter of last year. Not surprisingly, the states with the highest number of business openings were among those that eased restrictions throughout March or earlier, such as Michigan, Mississippi and South Carolina.

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