Staff Working Paper No. 981
By Saleem Bahaj, Sophie Piton and Anthony Savagar
We use data on business registrations in the UK to study the response of firm entry to the Covid-19 pandemic. We find that firm entry increased during the pandemic, unlike typical recessions where firm entry declines. The rise in firm creation is driven by individual entrepreneurs creating companies for the first time, and particularly creating companies in online retail. We link the rise in firm creation to declines in brick-and-mortar retail footfall via Google mobility data, and show that it takes 10 weeks for a firm to be registered after a shock to footfall. To study the impacts of the newly created firms, we merge entry data with online job postings from Indeed and show that the rise in firm creation drives increased vacancy postings. However, we also show there is a higher probability of pandemic startups dissolving relative to pre-pandemic cohorts. Therefore, we conclude that booming firm creation aided the rapid recovery of the UK economy in the short run, but the long-run implications are more uncertain.