Uber could be a mirror of the changes in habits that a pandemic that was looming two years ago brought us. This company, which came to the market with the intention of revolutionizing passenger transport in the taxi sector, found with the confinement of 2020 an economic disaster, which it was able to compensate with another unit of its business: Uber Eats, his delivery proposal that brings us food (or other things) home.
In the latest results presented by the company, this month, Uber said that the increase in revenues and the return of passengers in the last months of 2021 showed that its business was recovering from the slowdown caused by due to the pandemic. But where he saw its strength was in its home delivery service.
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Uber said Uber Eats was able to sustain business during spikes in coronavirus cases, when its drive-through business declined. Uber Eats reported that it ended 2021 with 118 million users during the quarter, an increase of 27% from the previous year. All this worldwide.
The evolution of the Uber business for passengers compared to Uber Eats is clearly seen in this graph, divided by quarters, made by BusinessofApps with company data:
Although Uber has added more riders every quarter since the summer of 2020, mobility revenue has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. Uber earned 10.4 billion dollars in 2019 with mobility, in 2021 the segment generated a total of 7.3 billion dollars.
A pandemic trend that is now a gamble
It should be remembered that in the summer of 2020 Uber Technologies registered losses of almost 1,500 million euros between April and June, in the hard months of the pandemic. And meanwhile, the Uber Eats delivery business grew its sales by 103%, to 1,211 million dollars, becoming the platform’s main revenue engine for the first time. Now, with the passage of time and with far fewer restrictions than in the spring of two years ago, the trend seems to continue.
And not only the trend, but the commitment to the firm: during the final of the Super Bowl in 2022, the American event that attracts the most attention of the whole year and where the brands adorn themselves and invest a lot of money in advertising, this company advertised its delivery service and home delivery, not its passenger service.
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You have to see how other sectors, such as education, have noticed a change in the habits of people and companies. The economic results and the growth of users of online education platforms such as Coursera (even in months of openness and freedom) are a clear example that our habits have changed.
Situation in Spain
If we talk about our country, we can find that Uber Eats seems to have a clearer regulation than the sector that Uber occupies. It must be remembered that after a first foray into Barcelona in 2015 that closed its doors before the end of the year, UberEats returned to Spain in 2017. It restarted in Madrid with the intention of establishing itself once and for all in the Spanish market to expand throughout the rest of the geography and has done so. Last year, the Rider Law came into force in Spain, which presents a legal framework for the hiring of workers.
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In the case of Uber, not only do you have to manage the matter of the firm’s employees, but when competing with a very traditional sector such as taxis, it encounters an extra hurdle. And, furthermore, central government and cities do not always agree. In the past year, a new law was enacted where new types of offenders were established in the vehicle rental service with driver, known as VTC: the new law brought harsher fines for Uber and Cabify, dictating, for example, that collecting a customer who has not pre-contracted will be a very serious infraction.
For its part, in Madrid, two months later, the Community of Madrid (CAM) published a Draft Law on urgent measures in this regard that includes a modification to the Transport Law to regulate VTCs. And according to the taxi driver organizations, it breaches its agreements with the regional government and demands changes and compensation in the millions.