Date: April 18, 2021
Contact: Molly Weedn (415) 209-4217
[email protected]

New Study: App-Based Delivery Services Provided Billions in Revenue, Protecting Merchants, Grocers and Restaurants Throughout Pandemic

New UC Riverside study shows that app-based delivery generated $19 billion in revenue that kept tens of thousands of restaurants, grocers and merchants open during COVID-19 pandemic

Sacramento, CA – A new study conducted by UC Riverside found that app-based services were an economic lifeline for restaurants, grocers and merchants during the height of the pandemic. From the third quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2021, the number of grocers and restaurants using these platforms nearly doubled to 151,311 across California, and merchant revenues on the platforms tripled. From the third quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2021, restaurants and merchants earned $19 billion. To conduct the analysis, UC Riverside researchers from the Center for Economic Forecasting and Development used anonymized data provided by DoorDash, Instacart and Uber Eats. 

In early 2020, millions of Californians were forced to stay home due to the pandemic, creating unexpected hardship for restaurants, grocers and small businesses that were suddenly without customers. Merchants, grocers and restaurants across the state turned to app-based platforms to keep their businesses alive and continue providing their goods and products to Californians. As a result, the average revenue for merchants on app-based platforms nearly doubled to $21,000 during the pandemic.  

“As a small business owner, you learn to adapt to things on the fly, which is what I’ve done for 10 years,” said Rahim Ali, owner of Green Olive restaurant in Los Angeles. “But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I didn’t know how we would survive. I worried about how we could pay our staff, how we could keep our order minimums with vendors who relied on us and frankly, how we could keep our doors open. Luckily, app-based delivery services were a lifeline that literally saved our business.” 

The study found:

  • Over a two-year period, from the third quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2021, the number of restaurants, grocers and merchants who utilized the platforms nearly doubled, from 77,707 to 151,311, while merchant revenues on the platforms tripled.
  • From the third quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2021, restaurants, retailers and other merchants earned around $19 billion through app-based delivery platforms in California.
  • The biggest growth in the number of merchants who used the platforms over the two-year period came in relatively smaller regions within the state (such as El Centro, Hanford, Redding and Madera). Likewise, revenue growth was strongest in regions including Hanford, Merced, Visalia, Redding and Madera. 

The report also details merchant revenue and growth across each of California’s metropolitan statistical areas from the third quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2021.  

“The Latino Restaurant Association is dedicated to supporting and promoting restaurateurs, small businesses and the entire Latino restaurant community,” said Lilly Rocha, CEO of the Latino Restaurant Association. “We are proud to work with our community of innovative entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 pandemic to think creatively about how to keep their doors open. App-based delivery services have played a crucial role in ensuring that Latino restaurateurs are able to continue offering their services to communities across the state.” 

In November 2020, California voters protected the availability of app-based delivery and rideshare services by passing Proposition 22. Without Prop 22, these services were at risk of closure or severely being restricted due to legislation and lawsuits being pushed by politicians and special interests.

About Protect App-Based Drivers & Services (PADS) Coalition

The Protect App-Based Drivers & Services (PADS) coalition, formerly the Yes on Prop 22 coalition, is continuing to engage to ensure the will of California voters is upheld; to protect access to independent, app-based jobs; and to preserve the availability, affordability and reliability of on-demand app-based rideshare and delivery services that are essential to Californians and our economy.

Proposition 22 was supported by 59% of California voters, 120,000 drivers, and a diverse coalition of more than 140 groups including social justice, senior, community, business, veterans and many others.


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