Pretty much all of us are stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, phones and tablets in hand. Hunger gnaws. The restaurants that remain unshuttered offer delivery or takeout only.
It’s a recipe for a massive uptake in online food ordering. But the tidal wave has yet to materialize, due to a number of headwinds.
That fact was brought home Tuesday as Reuters reported that firms like Uber Eats and Just Eat have been feeling the impacts of a “double whammy” as suppliers and chains have closed and people have been shifting their online commerce activities toward buying groceries and busying themselves in the kitchen.
The impact has been global in scale. Reuters reported that data from SimilarWeb show that — as measured by downloads and use of smartphone apps — Uber Eats and Just Eat saw declines in their average daily users of between 2 percent and 23 percent last month.
The data show that repeat customer use is declining. In the United States, Grubhub seemed to hint at uneven traction, as some areas across the U.S. have rebounded, but places that have been hard hit by the pandemic, like New York, continue to be muted.
“New York is not doing well because residents have fled, restaurants are closing and people are scared,” Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney said in an interview with the newswire.
“In Seattle, people feel like the worst is over, they’re feeling a little bit more confident,” he said. “Everyone else is a mixed bag in between those two.”
Underscoring the fact that online food delivery has not gotten the lift from the pandemic that at least some might have expected, according to data from PYMNTS, a significant number of consumers said they are using aggregators less frequently.
Across two different surveys — one on March 17, and the other on March 27 — PYMNTS research found that the total percentage of those using aggregators stood at 41.9 percent at the end of the month versus 40.9 percent earlier in the month.
But drill down a bit, and PYMNTS found that of those who use aggregators, 24.4 percent said they use them less often, where that tally had been 23 percent on March 17. In the more recent survey, 6.6 percent said they use the aggregators about the same, a metric that had garnered 10.3 percent in mid-March.
All told, 30 percent of respondents as of the end of March said they use food delivery aggregators less often or about the same, and only 11 percent use them more often.
It’s hardly a seismic shift.
There are a number of factors at play in a world concerned about health (and wallets — we all want money to stretch a bit). PYMNTS found in a separate, recent study that ordering groceries online had tripled to 9 percent of consumers we surveyed, up from 3 percent in early March. The percentage of people interacting digitally with restaurants has jumped, we found, to 20 percent from 6 percent.
But if the percentage of those digital interactions has jumped, while activity across the aggregators has been relatively tame, it stands to reason that ordering may be done through direct channels. These local establishments may not be on aggregator sites, or consumers, mindful of fees charged to restaurants, may want their local favorites to keep more in their pockets as economic clouds continue to gather.