Mentions Of Inflation In Reviews Rise At Record-High Rates On Yelp

Inflation has not been felt equally across the United States.

In Q2 2022, 47 states saw an overall increase of inflation mentions in Yelp reviews compared with Q2 2021. This also includes Washington, D.C.

About 35 states saw more than a 25% increase in mentions of inflation.

The Yelp Economic Average (YEA) report -- a benchmark of local economic strength in the U.S., released Wednesday -- shows consumers have changed their habits based on inflation rising at record rates. Written review mentions are up by 28% compared with Q2 2021, and up by 33% compared with the same time in 2020.

Consumer searches for higher-priced businesses fell, but remain above pre-pandemic levels in Q2 2022. The share of searches on Yelp using the inexpensive “$” filter rose by 7% compared with Q1 2022, while the share of the highest “$$$$” filter fell by 12%.

While consumers are for the most part searching for lower-priced businesses, when compared to pre-pandemic levels in Q2 2019, they still searched for higher-priced businesses more frequently in the second quarter of this year.

For the report, Yelp analyzed review text from 2020 through Q2 2022 to observe how consumers are referencing inflation in reviews on its platform. The inflation references can include phrases mentioning inflation itself or higher or rising prices at businesses.

Searches on Yelp using the highest “$$$$” filter rose 55% in Q2 2022 compared with Q2 2019, whereas the use of the inexpensive “$” filter fell by 24%. Restaurants, food, and travel and hotel searches reflect a similar trend, while auto services searches oppose the trend.

Six of the top 10 states with the highest inflation experiences reported in Yelp reviews are in the Northeast -- including Massachusetts, New York, Maine, Washington D.C., New Jersey and New Hampshire.

Consumers say they are experiencing inflation more at more casual restaurants, where mentions on the Yelp platform rose 38% compared with Q2 2021. Mentions of inflation for food businesses rose 36%, followed by arts and entertainment at 33%, nightlife businesses at 30%, event services at 22%, and hotel and travel businesses at 20%.

Yelp for the first time found that consumers are reporting experiences of "shrinkflation" in reviews. In response to rising gas prices, Yelp data in Q2 2022 also points to a nearly two-fold increase in searches for electric vehicles compared with Q2 2021.

While fewer consumers sought out higher-priced businesses than earlier in 2022, people are still looking for more expensive businesses compared to pre-pandemic. In the first half of 2022, they’re also waiting longer than ever to get a reservation at restaurants

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