The lockdown of millions of people at home across the globe due to the coronavirus should have been the perfect recipe for success for the burgeoning online meal delivery market. But some of the world's largest players, including Uber Eats and Just Eat, which is being bought by Takeaway.com, have been hit by a double whammy: restaurant suppliers have been ordered to shut and with more time at home to cook for themselves, some people appear to have lost their appetite for takeaway.
While many restaurants have switched to offering takeaway, giving the online services a bump in members signing up, some of the world's biggest food chains using the apps, such as McDonald's and Wagamama, have closed in the United Kingdom for the time being. Data from SimilarWeb, which tracks downloads and use of smartphone apps and websites across key European markets, highlights the scale of the slowdown across Europe as the pandemic spread and governments ordered people to stay at home.
In France, Spain and the United Kingdom, Just Eat and Uber Eats saw drops in average daily users ranging from 2 percent to as much as 23 percent in March, compared with the averages for January and February. Deliveroo also saw falls in France and Spain, although a small increase in the United Kingdom, the data shows.
The falls reflect a big drop in repeat customers. Some 90 percent of activity on apps is reorders, according to SimilarWeb. The data is in stark contrast to the double-digit percentage increases in grocery delivery volumes over the same period as people rushed to stock up as they went into lockdown.
The numbers offer a glimpse into how the virus has quickly changed people's food ordering and cooking habits and has put the brakes on a fast-growing industry.
Before the virus, the European industry, worth about $16.5 billion in revenue, was expected to grow by 10 percent per year over the next decade, according to Statistica. Just Eat and Deliveroo declined to comment on the data. An Uber spokesman said the impact of the virus had varied widely across Europe, but it had seen big increases in restaurants and shops signing up to its app.