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New restaurants return to opening mode

Restaurant launches spiked during the first quarter, according to data from review site Yelp.
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New restaurant openings spiked during the first quarter, providing some hope for post-pandemic growth, according to new data from review site Yelp released Wednesday.

The latest Yelp Economic Average report found more new businesses opened during Q1 than any other period over the past 12 months.

In the last 12 months in the U.S., there were 516, 754 new business openings, down 11% from the previous year. Of those new business openings, just over 13% were restaurant and food operations, a 14% decline year over year.

More than 146,000 new businesses opened during the first quarter, up 4% from the same period pre-pandemic in 2019, Yelp found.

“After a challenging year, 2021 is off to an encouraging start for the local economy, with Yelp data signaling a recovery as new business openings and business reopenings soar in the first quarter,” said Justin Norman, Yelp’s vice president of data science, in a statement. “Along with a downward trend of nationwide COVID-19 cases and an increase in vaccinations, these are all promising signs of rebounding local economies.”

During Q1, restaurant and food business openings rose 5% compared to the same period in 2020, down 4% from 2019 levels, Yelp reported.

States with the largest increase in overall new business openings were Mississippi, Alabama and Maine, according to the study.

Business reopenings are also on the rise, with the highest numbers seen since August 2020, Yelp found.

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