Uber's food delivery business outshines core rides service

FILE - In this May 15, 2020 file photo, an Uber sign is displayed inside a car in Chicago.  Ubers food delivery business brought in more money during the third quarter than its signature rides business. It was a sign of how much consumer behavior has changed, and how far the company has adapted, since the pandemic struck.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
FILE - In this May 15, 2020 file photo, an Uber sign is displayed inside a car in Chicago. Ubers food delivery business brought in more money during the third quarter than its signature rides business. It was a sign of how much consumer behavior has changed, and how far the company has adapted, since the pandemic struck. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Uber's food delivery business brought in more money during the third quarter than its signature rides business, showing just how much consumer behavior has changed — and how far the company has adapted — since the pandemic struck.

The San Francisco-based ride-hailing company lost $1.09 billion in the three months that ended Sept. 30 as many customers were still staying out of shared vehicles.

“Without question, the (pandemic’s) impact on the world has been one of the most significant impacts of our lifetimes, and we moved quickly as a company to respond,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, in a conference call with investors Thursday.

Uber brought in $3.13 billion in revenue, down 18% from the same time last year. Its mobility business, which includes ride-hailing, scooters and bikes, accounted for $1.37 billion of that, down 53% from the same time last year. Despite the decline, the rides business showed improvement from the second quarter, when it brought in just $790 million.

The partial recovery in rides was linked to the level of lockdown restrictions in any given city. “When cities start to move, so too does Uber," Khosrowshahi said.

In New York City, where the COVID case count has been more controlled than elsewhere in recent months, bookings recovered to 63% of year-ago levels in October, he said, adding that Uber ridership there is recovering faster than mass transit or taxis.

The riders that were first to return to Uber's cars tend to be more price-sensitive, and are more likely to be heading to jobs that don't offer the option to work from home, Khosrowshahi said.

Uber's Eats business generated $1.45 billion in revenue, up 125% from a year ago as restaurants relied on Uber for delivery and the trend of people ordering in instead of dining out during the pandemic continued.