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Report: More Illinois service businesses shuttering than temporarily closing

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Monday, July 27, 2020  |  Article  |  By Cole Lauterbach | The Center Square

Business (10) , Governor (44) , Health (49)

(The Center Square) – Thousands of businesses in Illinois have closed since Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued stay-at-home orders to reduce the spread of COVID-19, according to a quarterly report from the consumer review website Yelp, which said more of those businesses will remain closed rather than reopen. 

In its “economic average” report, Yelp found about 5,100 Illinois-based business listings on its site have either temporarily closed or will permanently shutter. 

“With nearly every state (and even county) taking a tailored approach to reopening local economies we expect these shifts in consumer interest and business closures to continue to move at an unpredictable pace,” the report said.

Most of the closures, 4,400, were listed as Chicago-based businesses. 

“It’s very tough to see our economy doing what it’s doing right now,” said Mark Grant, director of the National Federation of Independent Business Illinois chapter. “Either it’s financially not working out or they just don’t have the will to try to make it happen anymore.” 

Since the review-based website mainly caters to service-industry listings, other sectors of the state’s economy are not represented. Yelp said its closure counts are likely an estimate of the businesses most impacted, with many others not counted because they remain open with curtailed hours and staffing. Other businesses could be closed and have not yet updated their Yelp business pages to reflect closures, the report said.

Grant described the “nerve-wracking” emotional process of a small business owner being forced to close.

“These folks are just really desperate to get those doors back open and if they can’t get back open, or if they open up and customers are saying ‘I’m not willing to come back,’ that makes it even worse,” he said. 

separate report from the Illinois Policy Institute estimated the state could permanently lose 94,200 service sector jobs should state officials begin to reinstate closure orders. 

“Chicago’s economic fallout, exacerbated by new COVID-19 restrictions, could very likely set the tone for the rest of the state,” Chief Economist Orphe Divounguy said. “Thousands of businesses previously banking on temporary closures and a slow but steady return to normal are quickly seeing these shutdowns become permanent.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,532 new COVID-19 cases Friday, attributing 19 more deaths to the virus.