New • COVID-19 Report

Dueling Rideshares: Comparing Lyft vs. Uber Spending Through the Pandemic

Monday, May 3, 2021 • 11:00 AM EST

Key Takeaways:

1. Uber outperformed Lyft throughout the pandemic and into Q1 2021. The rideshare giant avoided a major drop in consumer spending by virtue of Uber Eats, which has grown 300% since Q1 2020. Uber Rideshare continues to exceed Lyft in popularity and frequency.
2. Lyft lost significant market share to Uber Rideshare in the first two months of the pandemic but was able to regain to near pre-pandemic levels. Now, Lyft users are spending more per trip ($22) than Uber users ($19), which represents a shift from early 2020.
3. While 28% of consumers plan to increase their rideshare usage in the next 3 months, mostly related to travel plans, not all offerings will benefit equally. 79% of rideshare survey panelists indicated that they are not willing to not take a shared ride (e.g. UberPool) in the near future.

Years after disrupting the taxi industry, Uber (NYSE: UBER) remains the rideshare market leader in the United States. Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT), however, is biting at its heels. To better understand how these companies compare to one another, Cardify analyzed spending and market share data for Uber, Uber Eats, Uber Rideshare, and Lyft. While ridesharing in general took a tumble due to the pandemic, Uber retained more indexed spending than Lyft due to a nearly 300% surge in Uber Eats spending. Interestingly, Uber Eats spending appears to continue its growth in Q1 2021, even as vaccinations continue and more communities open up to in-person dining.

The pandemic’s effects are evident not only in spending, but in travel frequency. Indexed to March 2020, both Uber and Lyft saw more than 40% drops in ridesharing frequency.

Lyft and Uber average spend per trip continues to rise, a positive sign for both companies. Both platforms saw indexed average basket sizes increase throughout 2020 and early 2021. This trend could mean people use ridesharing apps less frequently overall, but they still continue to use Lyft and Uber for longer rides, resulting in a higher value per transaction.

From a market share perspective, Lyft dug out its niche and has been able to defend it. However, the tug of war between the two brands appears to be leaning further in Uber’s favor. In March and April 2020 as the pandemic got started, Uber quickly took half of Lyft’s market share, dropping it from 37% to 16%. Lyft quickly recovered back to an average of 31% of market share throughout the remainder of 2020, where it remains today.

With the exception of Lyft, no rideshare app has been able to make a significant dent in Uber’s market dominance. However, this may not last for long. It seems that a positive trend with Uber Eats has buoyed the whole brand, as the company is already near pre-pandemic levels in aggregate, while Lyft struggles to regain its rider frequency levels and market share.
Looking ahead at what’s in store for Lyft and Uber next quarter, Cardify polled more than 1,000 panelists on their rideshare plans for the next 3 months. The results are quietly optimistic but far from indicating a full recovery. 28% of respondents plan to take more rideshare trips, 42% the same number, and 30% fewer or none at all. Panelists who have travel plans over the next 3 months strongly over-index in their likelihood to increase their rideshare usage. However, not all products will benefit equally - 79% of rideshare panelists indicated that they would avoid a shared service (e.g. UberPool) in the near future.