The impact of wildfires on local businesses.

Severe weather hero image of a wildfire

The impact of wildfires on local businesses.

Severe weather hero image of a wildfire

  • How many businesses permanently shut down due to different wildfires:
    • We identified the number of businesses that stopped transacting entirely during the wildfire, and didn’t transact again within 90 days after (this wouldn’t capture any business that re-opened after 90 days.)
  • How much was revenue impacted during different wildfires in our analysis:
    • We identified typical seasonal revenue trends nationwide in each industry, and compared the revenue at businesses in our analysis to see if (and by how much) revenue fell above or below the expected seasonal range in the days immediately prior to and following the wildfires in question.

We analyzed the following wildfires for this report: Camp, Carr, Easy, Kincade, Maria, Mendocino, NC Firestorm, and Woolsey.

Comparing the impact of different wildfires on certain types of local businesses.


Wildfires can be extremely destructive events, but no two wildfires are the same. We wanted to see how each event affected specific types of local businesses, and how they compared and contrasted.

We’ll start with a “zoomed out” view first, then drill down into a more detailed view.

How many businesses permanently closed due to wildfires?


It’s safe to assume that many small businesses located near major wildfires temporarily close due to evacuations, lack of foot traffic, or other reasons.

The sad reality is that some businesses are so badly damaged (physically, financially, or both) by severe wildfires that they shut down and never open back up again.

In order to determine how many businesses were permanently closed during each wildfire, we identified business that stopped transacting and then didn’t process another transaction within 90 days after the event.

The Camp Fire had the largest overall impact, with 13% of local businesses across all categories in our analysis permanently closing during that wildfire. 24% of food and beverage shops in our analysis (grocery stores, convenience stores, bakeries, etc.) shut down, making it the most heavily affected industry during the Camp fire.

The Northern California Firestorm was the next most destructive wildfire in our analysis. 11% of of businesses permanently closed during the event, with those in the dining and food and beverage industries being hit especially hard.

How much was average revenue at local businesses impacted during individual wildfires?


As we saw in the section above, wildfires can have a widespread impact on businesses, even those that may be well clear of the fire’s path. In this section, we’ll examine those businesses that were able to remain open and transacting and see how revenue was impacted during each wildfire.

Our analysis identified when, after the beginning of an individual wildfire, average revenue at open businesses deviated from what was otherwise expected.

The table below shows how much revenue was impacted (negatively or positively) on average throughout the affected period.

An important note: these figures represent average revenue at businesses that were able to remain open and transacting.

Impact on revenue
Length of impact

Change in revenue during and immediately after the weather event vs. typical seasonal averages

Number of days revenue was above or below seasonal expectations during and after the weather event

As you can see, some wildfires appeared to be far more destructive to local economies than others. The Camp Fire, for example, appeared to have a much longer-lasting negative impact on multiple local business industries than did the Maria Fire.

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More details by industry type / wildfires


Select an industry in the table below to see more details on the impact of different wildfires on that industry:

Details by industry type
Arts And Entertainment
Auto Services
Bars And Lounges
Food And Beverage Shops
Health And Beauty
Local Services
Lodging Places
Pet Services
Quick Serve Food And Beverage
Restaurants
Retail And Wholesale
Sports And Recreation Places
Details by wildfire
Camp
Carr
Easy
Kincade
Maria
Mendocino
NC Firestorm
Woolsey

Timeline: how long did it take for local business revenue to return to normal after each wildfire?


Now, let’s take a closer look at how much revenue was impacted during each wildfire in our analysis, and how long it took for revenue to get back to “normal.”

Select an industry

Arts And Entertainment
Auto Services
Bars And Lounges
Food And Beverage Shops
Health And Beauty
Local Services
Lodging Places
Pet Services
Quick Serve Food And Beverage
Restaurants
Retail And Wholesale
Sports And Recreation Places

Select a wildfire

Camp
Carr
Easy
Kincade
Maria
Mendocino
NC Firestorm
Woolsey

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