Opinions are the writer’s own and not those of Blavity's.
In the holiday stretch between Halloween and Christmas, retail shopping reaches a festive peak. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all 12 days of Christmas serve as opportunities to stock up on the hottest deals in town, new tech devices and the best holiday gifts before they sell out. But with so many businesses closing during the pandemic, the real question is: where will you be shopping?
This year, predicted holiday retail sales are expected to grow between 8.5% and 10.5% compared to 2020, one of the highest retail sales records ever. Meanwhile, the remaining 40% of Black-owned businesses that survived the economic shutdown from COVID-19 are still working to recover as additional delayed support from banks and Congressional stimulus bills have disproportionately excluded Black businesses. With this kind of growth attainable for Black-owned businesses, we have the power to intentionally funnel this spending to support Black-owned businesses that are still recovering from the pandemic.
Last year, Color Of Change surveyed Black-owned businesses and found that 60% of Black businesses had closed during the COVID-19 outbreak. Racist banking practices and pre-existing factors make the road to recovery even more difficult for the remaining Black-owned businesses now.
As of 2021, our communities’ spending power averages around 1 trillion dollars annually. Black spending power has risen by 114% in just this year alone. But, monopolies and consolidation of the marketplace mean Black consumers are cornered into spending funds on companies that belittle, antagonize and ignore our communities’ needs. And as we continue to spend in these mostly white-owned establishments, cases of racial profiling continue to increase. Combined with the increasing racial wealth gap and short-lived circulation of the Black dollar in Black communities, investing back into Black-owned businesses has the potential to help restructure the economic status of our communities.
Supporting Black businesses goes far beyond just spending money on gifts. This is about supporting our communities, rebuilding our economies and establishing our financial legacies. For decades, Black-owned businesses have served as central entities in Black communities, providing safe service that may not otherwise be guaranteed by other establishments. This kind of monetary support transcends revenue and profit — this is about investing in businesses that preserve culture, uplift the necessary causes and protect the rest of us in times of need.
When we pour into our communities, they pour into us. Looking at designers like Telfar, Pyer Moss, Brandon Blackwood and others, these business owners have not only made their name in fashion but have also strived to give back to our communities through activism and program initiatives. Telfar released a Bag Security Program to ensure that those who are not financially able at the moment are able to get the bag they ordered at a later date. Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder of the high-end fashion brand, Pyer Moss, brought police brutality to the runways of New York Fashion Week in 2020 by labeling his clothes with words that explain the Black experience as it relates to police brutality. Brandon Blackwood released the “End Systemic Racism” bags, which make a statement about the systematic hardships people of color endure in America.
Black designers are not only bringing beautiful and creative pieces to traditional retail, but they are speaking about our community’s needs, perspectives and culture.
The Black Business Green Book is a comprehensive directory of Black-owned businesses around the country. Compared to national corporations, local Black-owned businesses are more likely to hire members of the community, have direct relationships with key decision-makers and take profits to reinvest into the community. For the future stability and success of our communities, it’s essential we begin to shift our support to Black-owned businesses and continue the fight to get entrepreneurs and workers the protections they’re owed.
This is the time to show our communities support through focusing on spending our money where it really counts — businesses that speak out against the injustices of our American system. This holiday season let’s support and collaborate in making purchases that uplift and bring our community together.