Yelp offers support for small businesses as COVID-19 wreaks economic havoc

Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Yelp
Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Yelp

The platform has offered up $25 million in free services and upgrades to support local businesses.

Yelp is dropping $25 million in relief for independent local restaurants and nightlife businesses in the form of waived advertising fees and free products and services.

This encompasses free access to Yelp page upgrades, including Business Highlights and Call To Action, as well as Connect. 

Restaurants will also receive three months of free access to Yelp Reservations and Waitlist while restaurant clients that offer delivery and/or takeout, will receive $100 in free search advertising.

The platform is also adapting to the new reality of social distancing with an impending  "contact-free" delivery option that will be added during the delivery checkout process.

Yelp is also building new functionality that enables business owners to easily indicate if they’re only open for delivery and takeout. 

Additionally, the platform will crack down on negative reviews due to the extraordinary circumstances currently facing all businesses. 

"We’ve also implemented special review content guidelines to protect local businesses from reputational harm related to these extraordinary circumstances," Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Yelp, said in a blog post.

"For example, we have zero tolerance for any claims in reviews of contracting Covid-19 from a business or its employees, or negative reviews about a business being closed during what would be their regular open hours in normal circumstances," he added.

Data from Yelp has shown a radical shift in the business that consumers are frequenting now that millions of people have been mandated to remain indoors and limit contact with others.

According to a report from the platform, consumer interest for restaurants has fallen by 54 percent, and for nightlife businesses by 69 percent. Pizzerias, fast food restaurants, grocery stores, and fruits and veggies shops are all grabbing a much bigger share of the pie than they were a week ago (up 44 percent, 64 percent, 160 percent, and 102 percent, respectively, in the share of daily U.S. consumer actions in their relative root categories on Wednesday from a week earlier), while French restaurants (down 47 percent), cafes (down 66 percent), and wineries (down 44 percent) are declining.


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