Takeout delivery companies would seem ideally positioned to benefit as the coronavirus forces millions of Americans to stay home. Grubhub, UberEats and other companies that handle restaurant takeout orders were actually suffering from weak sales growth through the first couple of months of this year, before the scope of the pandemic was realized, according to analysts at M Science. First quarter sales data through March 9 show spending growth for the meal delivery industry slowed to 6.3% after surging 31.5% in the fourth quarter of 2019. DoorDash, which last month filed paperwork for an IPO and controls 36% of the market, drove most of the growth.
M Science says its “early read” is that the pandemic has been “a headwind” to meal delivery companies. “Delivery may have been viewed more apprehensively earlier during the pandemic where potential food transmission of novel coronavirus was not yet understood,” the analysts said. But with millions of Americans shut indefinitely inside their homes from California to New York and chains like Domino’s Pizza hiring thousands of new delivery workers, it remains to be seen if the trend quickly reverses.