- The coronavirus pandemic has forced people around the world to stay home and avoid travel, causing a drastic slowdown for companies like Uber and Lyft.
- New data from SuperFly shows Uber rides in the US have fallen by as much as 94%, a larger dip than the one disclosed by Uber in early March.
- Both ride-hailing providers have pivoted to delivery in recent weeks as a way to aid in the crisis and fortify their businesses.
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The coronavirus pandemic has forced people around the world to avoid travel, wreaking havoc on Uber and Lyft’s core taxi businesses.
New data from SuperFly, an Israeli firm that tracks anonymized spending data, shows just how drastic the drop-off has been for Uber. In the span of a just four weeks, data tracked by the company’s 20,000 users shows, Uber rides fell as much as 94% in the United States.
While SuperFly’s data is, of course, not official and not all-encompassing, it does provide a more granular insight than that given by Uber earlier in March. The weeks are numbered from the start of the year, with week 13 ending Sunday, March 29.
On March 19, chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi told analysts that Uber bookings were down some 60% to 70% in "more recently impacted markets like Seattle," and noted the company was expecting a rebound to begin in the middle of the second quarter, roughly near the end of April. That date corresponds with the current extension of federal social-distancing guidelines announced by President Donald Trump on Sunday.
SuperFly did not release data for Lyft, but Wall Street analysts expect the company's financials could be hurt similarly. JPMorgan's Doug Anmuth last week modeled a 290 basis point reduction in 2021 EBITDA for Uber and 300 for Lyft.
"Importantly, we believe both Uber ($10B), and Lyft ($2.8B) have enough cash to survive the temporary business impact, and we don't anticipate capital raises," he said.
Delivery could be both companies' savior
On the analyst call, Uber said sign-ups by businesses in Seattle - the epicenter of the US' coronavirus outbreak at the time - had increased tenfold in the week prior to the call. Lyft has also announced a new entry into delivery, including opportunities for drivers to work in Amazon warehouses and on the company's grocery service.
1/5 - The coronavirus has changed routines. We are going fewer places and relying on delivery more. This is hard on drivers, and makes the work of delivery people more important than ever. So @UberEats is making new opportunities available to @Uber drivers https://t.co/AjzTdsbuUO
— Pierre-Dimitri (@pierre_dimitri) March 25, 2020
"We think food delivery has been resilient in this environment, and even a beneficiary as restaurants and cafes remain shut for dine-ins, but remain open for delivery," JPMorgan said.
As of Tuesday morning, there were more than 164,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States.
Shares of Uber and Lyft are down 12% and 40%, respectively, since January 1.