Study Finds Black-Owned Restaurants Had a Larger Drop in Business During the Pandemic

A new study led by Xiao Huang, an assistant professor in the department of geosciences and the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies at the University of Arkansas, found that Black-owned restaurants experienced a greater drop in business during the pandemic than other restaurants.

Researchers focused on 20 U.S. cities to observe differences among various geographic locations and to ensure spatial representativeness. They identified Black-owned restaurants from Yelp reviews and other sources. They then cross-referenced the businesses with visitation records collected by SafeGraph, a company that collects visitation patterns on points of interest through an estimated 45 million mobile devices.

Overall, the researchers found there were statistically significant differential impacts between Black-owned and “ownership-unreported” restaurants throughout the 20 cities, primarily measured by relative declines in visits. New Orleans and Detroit showed the greatest disparities, while New York City showed the least.

The authors speculate that “the costs of staying open and continuing to offer dine-in services during the first few months, the loss of employees due to virus infection and the depletion of financial reserves, made the Black-owned restaurants less competitive than those that had better flexibility in reacting to the pandemic.”

The full study, “Black Businesses Matter: A Longitudinal Study of Black-Owned Restaurants in the COVID-19 Pandemic Using Geospatial Big Data,” was published on the website of the Annals of the American Association of Geographers. It may be accessed here.


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