Sep 19, 2023 - Business

There's a business bounceback around Boston

Data: Yelp; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Yelp; Chart: Axios Visuals

More than 700 new businesses were registered on Yelp across the Boston metro area in July 2023, per the company, up 21.5% year over year.

Why it matters: New business openings are a good measure of economic sentiment — people generally don't take the risk of spinning up a new venture if they foresee economic peril ahead.

The big picture: Business openings nationwide have exceeded 2019 levels every month this year, thanks to a surge in travel, events and get-togethers, Axios's Hope King reports.

  • California, Florida, Texas, New York and Georgia have seen the largest total number of new business openings so far this year.

Zoom in: July 2023 business openings in metro Boston were up 1.8% over the month immediately prior, and up 19.5% from January 2019.

  • We held our own during the pandemic compared to other metro areas: The number of businesses that opened here in 2022 was pretty consistent with 2019, unlike in Richmond, Raleigh and San Antonio, who all saw fewer businesses open in 2022 compared to 2019.

Yes but: Some major cities that compete with us for jobs, like Austin, Seattle and San Francisco, had stability similar to ours.

Zoom out: Nationwide, new listings of shops and services on Yelp are on track to beat 2022's all-time high, according to a recent company report.

  • Nearly 484,000 new businesses popped up on the platform from January through July this year, compared with about 389,000 over the same time period last year.
  • Openings increased across every category, driven by hotels and travel (up 39% over 2022), home services (up 37%), auto (up 27%), event services (up 27%) and local services (up 23%).

Meanwhile, there have been more business openings from underrepresented communities every month compared with the same month last year.

  • From January through July, LGBTQ-owned (+33%), Black-owned (+28%) and Latin-owned (+28%) businesses opened at a higher rate than the national average (+25%), and when compared with the same time period last year.
  • Women-owned businesses saw an increase of 19% in openings, and Asian-owned businesses saw a 13% increase.

What they're saying: "As reasons for economic optimism grow, it's promising to see new business growth approach a new all-time high, with the uptick being reflected in minority-owned businesses as well," a Yelp spokesperson says.

What to watch: How long economic optimism lasts, and whether momentum continues as banking conditions tighten for small businesses.

Of note: Yelp business openings refer to new business listings on the platform in a given time frame.

  • Business owners or Yelp users can add listings.
  • New business data may lag due to the time taken to report and verify openings, Yelp says.

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