Black Buying Power

Athena D. Merritt, Philadelphia Business Journal, September 28, 2010

As a black business owner, with two locations in Philadelphia, Omega Optical co-founder Steve Davis still finds it difficult to capture dollars spent by blacks.

And he’s hardly alone in facing the problem.

The nation’s 1 million black-owned businesses account for more than $100 billion in annual sales. Black buying power is estimated at $913 billion this year nationwide, meaning only 10 percent of dollars spent by blacks are supporting the enterprises, said Nicole Giles, acting executive director of the African American Chamber of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

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“If our money was spent with these African-American–owned businesses they could build capacity and in building capacity could hire more people,” Giles said.

Not being able to find one or having had a poor experience with one in the past are common excuses for not patronizing black-owned businesses, Giles said.

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Lynne Hart hopes the exposure will help her business, Party Favors Ink, which provides custom wedding favors, grow so that it will be her sole source of income.

“In many instances I just don’t get the business,” said Hart, who joined the chamber earlier this year.

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Black Spending Power

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Black buying power outpaced all other minority groups in Pennsylvania last year, accounting for about $32 billion, or about 7.2 cents of every dollar spent, compared to 2.6 cents out of every dollar for Asians and 2.8 cents out of every dollar for Hispanics/Latinos.

Black buying power in Pennsylvania has increased 51 percent from 2000 to 2009, compared to 40 percent for whites, 101 percent for Asians and 134 percent for Hispanics/Latinos over the same period.

Nationwide, black buying power was $910 billion last year, or 8.5 percent.

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