REUTERS: Crowdsourced business review website Yelp on Tuesday launched a tag for businesses to mark themselves as "Latinx-owned" in a move designed to support Latino businesses hit hard by the pandemic, the company said.
People using the Yelp site will be able to search for businesses via the tag to channel spending towards the Latino community.
"Latinx" is a gender-neutral term to describe people of Latino or Hispanic origin.
Yelp introduced a similar feature for Black-owned businesses in June after the death of George Floyd prompted a upsurge of consumer interest in supporting the Black community.
"During COVID-19, Latino business owners were disproportionately left out of the economic stimulus effort, and have been struggling," Henry Muñoz III, head of community organisation Momento Latino, which is partnering with Yelp to introduce the tag, said.
Latinos opened businesses at a faster rate than any other ethnic group in the past decade, a Stanford University study showed, contributing US$500 billion to the U.S. economy.
But many were severely hit by the pandemic, with a third reporting they stopped working during lockdown compared to 17per cent of white business owners, according to a University of California study.
Andrea Aguirre, owner of donut store Art of Donut in San Antonio, Texas, said the company would be introducing the tag.
"We had to close our dining area, so we're doing take-out and delivery only," Aguirre said. "Social media helped us so much but it's not the same. Still, we're thankful just to be in business."
Yelp's share price, which was at US$36.5 in February this year from a September 2018 high of US$49.2, tumbled to US$14.46 on March 18 as restaurants closed in the United States, but has since partially recovered to US$21.93.
The company, which relies on advertising by restaurants, shops and night life for 95.8per cent of its revenues, had a 31.6per cent year-on-year revenue decline in the second quarter of 2020.
(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee. Editing by Jane Merriman)