Women-Owned Business Are Thriving in These 5 U.S. Cities, According to Yelp

published Mar 8, 2024
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In case you hadn’t heard, 2023 was dubbed the Year of the Girl. Whether you relished in a tomato girl summer, celebrated a bow girl Christmas, used girl math to apply economic theory to a recent purchase, or decorated your home in Barbie pink, there was ample evidence that “girl power” is so much more than a catchphrase on a Lisa Frank notebook — it’s a fun but not-at-all frivolous phenomenon with huge purchasing power.

Need to see the numbers to believe it? A new report from Yelp revealed that searches for women-owned businesses and women-owned business openings skyrocketed across several categories this past year

For starters, women opened 17% more businesses in 2023 than in 2022, according to Yelp new business listings data, adding up to almost half a million women-owned businesses listed on the crowd-sourced review site. And, encouragingly, the openings spanned all kinds of categories: hotels and travel businesses (which saw a 44% year-over-year growth rate), home services (a 38% increase), education (up 20%), financial services (up 11%), and more. 

Credit: yelp

If you live in Austin; Miami; Washington, D.C.; Denver; or Orlando you might’ve noticed that uptick more than others, as those cities experienced the most growth in women-owned businesses this past year. But the report shows that it wasn’t just business openings that soared — there was a huge increase in how many people were looking for women-owned shops all across the country, too. Searches for women-owned fashion businesses were up by more than 1,600%, while people searched for women-owned pilates studios 350% more than the year before, and searches for women-owned bookstores increased by 74%.

The report also points out some further-reaching effects of women in the economy. Take, for example, Taylor Swift: Crediting her appearance at recent Kansas City Chiefs games, Yelp found that when Taylor started wearing football merch, searches for jerseys and local Kansas City businesses quickly rose. 

The rise of BookTok, which highlights many women authors (if you don’t know Colleen Hoover, now you do) and is helmed by many women TikTok creators, ​​also brought more interest in everything from women-owned bookstores (searches increased by 74% from 2022 to 2023), to bookstore cafes and book shops, according to Yelp data.

Although the 2023 calendar year has closed, even when bows and Barbie pink fade out of the style spotlight, it’s clear that the “year of the girl” is nowhere near the rearview mirror. “We expect more of these women-owned businesses to open up, especially in the home services industry and keep an eye out in the professional organization industry,” predicts Yelp Trend Expert Tara Lewis. “Just based on our recent trend predictions in Yelp’s 2024 Home and Living Trend Report, we saw searches for professional declutterers increase by 182%, and we expect this to continue this year.”

As hopeful as these predictions are, though, it just takes a quick glance at the current wage gap to see that gender equity still has a long way to go. According to Forbes, women on average make 16% less than men (or 84 cents on the male dollar), while Black women are paid just 64% of what non-Hispanic white men are paid.

As cheekily fun as it is to say “I’m just a girl,” it’s important to remember that the self-effacing phrase pulls on a power struggle that’s still in play. Looking at 2024, I can’t wait to see the ways women continue to innovate and open new businesses, care for themselves, follow their passions, develop new design trends, and push the economy in directions that are not at all to be underestimated.