As California and many other states lift mask mandates, data shows people are on the move, and increasingly dining in at restaurants, surpassing pre-pandemic numbers. The data also shows a shift in media buys, from search to digital out-of-home.
Yelp data estimates more than 3.7 million diners seated through the company’s platform in May 2021, surpassing pre-pandemic highs. In May 2021, that number climbed 48% compared with the year-ago month.
Changes in consumer behavior and attitude will prompt a shift in media buying, from location-based targeting and search to out-of-home electronic billboards and fueling stations.
Search will jump from $65,699 in 2021 to $72,491 in 2022, according to data from GroupM published in March.
Radio and outdoor should rebound, with significant growth during 2021 and soon should approach the levels they experienced before the COVID-19 pandemic.
GroupM estimates that spending on out-of-home media will jump more than 22% to $7.07 billion this year, climbing to $8.46 in 2022. As people get back in their cars and travel, radio will jump from $11,989 in 2020 to $12.895 in 2021.
Idaho experienced a 1,015% spike in seated dining information on Yelp, while Wyoming rose 1,002%; Nevada, 513%; Delaware, 422%; Alabama, 386%; Mississippi, 364%; Hawaii, 335%; and Colorado, 321%.
Texas -- one of the first states to lift mask mandates and re-open businesses to 100% capacity -- has seen a spike with diners seated via Yelp up 143% compared with May 2019. Houston rose 213%, while San Antonio rose 200%; Dallas rose 126%; and Austin rose 85%.
Cities that have witnessed a major spike from May 2021 versus May 2019 include Honolulu, up 853%; Las Vegas, up 589%; and Denver, up 320%, according to Yelp data.
“Near me searches were persistent throughout the pandemic,” said Greg Sterling, vice president of market insights at Uberall. "Google recorded local search growth during the entire period. Even as e-commerce grew dramatically, so did interest in local and supporting small businesses in local communities."
Google suggests that searches for "support local businesses" grew by 20,000%, Sterling said, citing data from Google.
Multiple surveys last year confirmed that people had become more focused on the survival of local businesses and wanted to support them, including data from Yelp.
“Now people are physically going into stores again and local search behavior should further increase,” Sterling said. “But these earlier searches were also about ecommerce ordering and fulfillment by local stores.”
Half of global consumers polled by Freshworks said that the pivot by small and medium-size businesses during the COVID pandemic improved customer experiences with local businesses. The survey found 41% of global consumers tried to shop with local businesses, and 94% planned to continue post-COVID.