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‘Buy Black’ Made Gains in 2021 Even Against Pandemic Backdrop, Yelp Data Shows

By Jeff Green

The Buy Black movement that emerged following the social unrest and unequal impact of the pandemic in 2020 continued to find support in 2021 as mentions of Black-owned businesses more than doubled and ratings were higher than the average, according to a Yelp study recently released.

A “Black Owned Business” sign is displayed in the window of a restaurant in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. New York City moved toward more reopenings, allowing outdoor dining and salon services next week, while several U.S. states showed less encouraging trends. Photographer: David Dee Delgado/Bloomberg

More than 45,000 business owners have opted to identify as Black-owned through a tag on the site since the search and review company added it in 2020, the company said in a blog post. Mentions of Black-owned businesses rose 165% in 2021 compared to 2019 and searches for Black-owned business were 5% higher than the three-year average, the data showed.

Black-owned businesses were hard-hit during the early stages of the pandemic. There was a 41% decline of black owners from February to April 2020,  the National Bureau of Economic Research found. The recovery since has also been rocky. More than half of Black-owned business had less than three-month’s cash in reserve and 45% said they have over-accumulated debt to stay in business, a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. survey in September showed. In another drag on recovery, the pre-pandemic median number of employees at Black-owned businesses has fallen to six, from nine prior to the pandemic, Goldman found.

Black businesses had a higher average rating of 4.4 compared to the average rating of 3.6 for all Yelp-listed businesses. The top states for Black-owned business, based on search volume, are California, Texas, Georgia, Florida and New York, the data showed. 

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