Business openings, reopenings hit impressive pace: Yelp Economic Average report

Food business Q1 data mark uplifting news as summer approaches

Yelp found that business openings in Q1 of 2021 are up more than at any point in time since the start of the pandemic. The Yelp Economic Average (YEA) report showed that business openings hit their peak in Q1 2021. In addition to the good news on business openings, reopenings hit their highest point since Q2 2020.

The data show that over a half-million businesses opened in the trailing months through March 31, 2021. The year-over-year comparison shows that this number is down only 11% from the comparable prior-year 12-month period. In fact, the YEA report indicates that restaurant and food business openings, as well as home, professional, local and auto services openings were above Q1 2020 levels.


There were a total of 146,486 total business openings in Q1 2021, which was the highest amount of quarterly openings in the past 12 months. As a comparable number to years prior, this number is down by only 2% from the same prior year period, and up by 4% from Q1 2019.

A highlight of the openings was the number of restaurant and food business openings at 18,217, which were up by 5% from the prior year quarter (Q1 2020), and down 4% from Q1 2019. Plus, professional, local, home and auto sector openings were also impressive at 79,332, up by 5% from Q1 2020 and up by 23% from Q1 2019.

Moreover, home services had the highest number of new openings in Q1 at 48,592, which were up 4%. Local services totaled 16,602, up 16%, and professional services saw 14,134 openings, up 2% from the prior year period. Finally, auto services openings were 9,790, up 10%.

Justin Norman, Yelp’s vice president of data science, said, “Yelp data shows a sharp increase of business reopenings in Q1—with reopenings hitting its highest levels since August 2020. New business openings also spiked between January and March 2021, with new openings for many categories above prior year levels. Along with a downward trend of nationwide COVID-19 cases and an increase in vaccinations, these are all promising signs of rebounding local economies.”


In the United States, a total of 516,754 new businesses opened in the United States between April 30 and March 31, 2021. This number reflects 69,001 restaurant and food businesses, down by 14%. In the same period, 272,749 businesses opened in the professional, local, home and auto categories, according to Yelp data.

Also, in the home services category, 165,006 businesses opened for the last 12 months, up 5% from the prior year period and local services openings were 54,369, up 3% from the prior year period. Business openings in the professional services category were 51,839, up 2%, and 34, 282 auto businesses opened, down 4% from the prior year period.

The total reopenings since March 1, 2020 rose to 258,191 up from 230,209 as of December 31. As reopening activity increased, according to Yelp data, several states saw over 65% of their reopenings occur in Q1 of 2021, since the August time period: Arkansas (302 reopenings), Delaware (140 reopenings), Mississippi (287 reopenings), Maryland (951 reopenings), Tennessee (872 reopenings), and Texas (5,331 reopenings).


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