That's according to a new Yelp report published Tuesday on how the coronavirus pandemic has affected local businesses. Using its collected data on companies, the reviews site tracked economic indicators such as consumer behavior and small-business health. Among other conclusions, it found that more than 175,000 businesses on the platform shut down permanently or temporarily between March 1 and April 19.
Seattle and San Francisco had the highest rate of business closures among major cities, the report found. Philadelphia and Miami had the lowest. It's hard to explain exactly why some cities were hit harder economically than others, according to Yelp data science editor Carl Bialik, who authored the report.
"The severity of the pandemic you expect would be a factor," Bialik tells Inc. "But the places where businesses did close down on a massive scale may have lower [coronavirus] case counts because it's an indicator of taking extreme measures to flatten the curve."
Yelp itself is feeling the pain: On April 9, the company let go 1,000 employees and furloughed 1,100 more. Its report, which notes that businesses in every industry on Yelp suffered negative effects during the three and a half month period, shows how quickly many small companies were able to shift their business models. Bialik cited as examples photographers who now take portraits of clients from safe distances, arts and fitness teachers conducting classes through live video, and party planners going virtual.
"I'm just marveling at the adaptability of small-business owners in the U.S.," he says.
Bialik says consumer responses to the pandemic--as seen in reviews of local businesses--have been largely uniform across the country, regardless of urban or rural settings or a region's political affiliations. For example, Yelp's data shows an uptick in consumers nationwide sending items like flowers and cakes to family and friends, "indicating people want to offer some tangible presence for each other in times of joy even when they can't be there in person."
Those observations raise at least one new question, which will only be answered once businesses across the country start reopening. "Does the behavior change even as the overall interest returns?" Bialik asks. "That's one thing I'll be really interested in watching."