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The Impact of Uber Eats in the UK

Executive Summary

In 2020, we estimate that Uber Eats supported £3.2 billion in economic value for the UK economy. Throughout Covid-19, Uber Eats helped thousands of restaurants stay open, tens of thousands of couriers to earn additional income on the side, and millions of families to enjoy high quality food.


Over 90% of the restaurants we surveyed judged that Uber Eats had helped increase the revenue they earned from takeaway or delivery.

Over 40% of restaurants we surveyed on the Uber Eats app say that they would have had to close their doors during Covid-19 without the revenue they received from food delivery platforms. 84% expected to continue using food delivery apps after life returned to normal.

In the next five years, the revenue from food delivery platforms to British restaurants could increase by over 40%, supporting the equivalent of over 1,000 new restaurants.


Food delivery platforms like Uber Eats have made it significantly more convenient to access high quality food for delivery and to try out new local restaurants. During Covid-19 this was more important than ever, providing a break from the monotony of lockdown and helping families and friends spend quality time together.

66% of surveyed Uber Eats users say that food delivery apps made it easier to access high quality food, and 68% to discover a new restaurant in their local area. 83% of Uber Eats users told us that they were satisfied with their experience of using the app.

51% of surveyed Uber Eats users say that convenience is an important reason as to why they order from food delivery apps, and 31% when they are tired of cooking or doing the dishes. In total, we estimate that ordering meals using the Uber Eats app has helped to free up 51 million hours of leisure time in 2020.

58% of Uber Eats users agreed that food delivery apps helped to improve their quality of life when they weren’t allowed to eat out. In 2020, an estimated 3 million people used a food delivery app to spend more quality time with their children.


The gig economy has provided a convenient way for hundreds of thousands of people to earn additional income on the side, while retaining the flexibility to continue to meet their other responsibilities.

The most important reason people choose to work using the Uber Eats app is that they value the flexibility the platform provides. 80% of the couriers we surveyed who use the Uber Eats app have another significant responsibility such as study, another job or looking after family. If the platform were to disappear, just 23% say that they would replace it with a full-time job.

In total, we estimate the Uber Eats app helped raise the earnings of couriers by £68 million in 2020.

77% of the couriers we surveyed say they are satisfied with their experience using the Uber Eats app, with 42% saying that they were very satisfied.

How We Measured the Impact of Uber Eats

In this report, Uber Eats commissioned Public First to better understand and quantify the positive impact Uber Eats has on consumers, couriers, restaurants and communities across the UK.

We relied on a mixture of data sources to estimate Uber Eats’ impact:

  • Uber Eats provided us with data on numbers of trips, payments to couriers and payments to restaurants in the UK during 2019 and 2020.
  • We ran a new in-depth nationally-representative poll of 1,010 respondents to explore the importance of food delivery to consumers during the last year.
  • We ran new anonymous surveys of over 600 couriers and 100 restaurants, asking them about their experience and the reasons they chose the Uber platform.
  • Public First is a member of the British Polling Council and a Company Partner of the Market Research Society, the two organisations that oversee ethics and standards in opinion research in the UK.

The full polling tables for this report are available to download from Public First’s website here.

Uber Eats Economic Impact by City (2020)
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Running an independent restaurant is not easy. Most estimates find that between 50 and 80% of restaurants fail within the first five years.1 At the same time, low profit margins and high running costs, particularly within expensive city centres, can make the economics of running a restaurant challenging. While every additional seat can increase revenue by thousands of pounds per year,  for most restaurants increasing their physical footprint is either impractical or prohibitively expensive.

Food delivery platforms like Uber Eats can help transform the business model of restaurants: making it far easier for them to serve a greater number of customers, without having to add extra physical space. At the same time, food delivery platforms are also enabling other innovations, such as virtual brands where kitchens can serve customers and create new brands making more use out of their existing premises.

In order to learn more about the impact of Uber Eats for individual restaurants, we distributed a survey to over 100 individual restaurants that sell meals through the platform. 71% of restaurants we spoke to said that they were satisfied with their restaurant’s partnership with Uber Eats.

In addition, they told us that:

This aligns well with the findings of our consumer survey, where users told us that food delivery apps like Uber Eats makes it far easier to branch out and try new things:

Over 90% of restaurants we surveyed judged that Uber Eats had increased the revenue they earned from takeaway or delivery. Much of this revenue is additional, rather than just substituting from another channel - expanding the total market for independent restaurants. Collison (2020), for example, found that the availability of food delivery services can increase restaurant sales by 30-50%.2 In total, in 2019, we estimate that Uber Eats helped generate around £147 million in additional value for restaurants.

Amanda, Brittons Caterers, Birmingham

Amanda is the owner of Brittons Caterers based in Birmingham which has a total of around 12 staff. There are two sides to the business: the catering side which had always been the focus and main money maker for the company, and the retail shop which mainly sells sandwiches for breakfast and lunch.

When the pandemic started, the catering side of the business was severely impacted and Amanda realised that she would have to focus on the retail side of her business in order to survive, so she started a delivery service using her own couriers. The store originally had three full time couriers who would do delivery orders, but on slow days they would often spend a lot of time waiting around without work to do, so she signed up for Uber Eats.

Since joining Uber Eats, Amanda now relies on the network of couriers so she doesn’t have any hassle organising her own service. She says couriers on the Uber Eats platform are “all very nice and reliable so I don’t have to worry about that at all.”

Amanda now makes about 30% of her revenue through Uber Eats and has seen a significant increase in footfall to the restaurant since she went on the app. “Without the success of delivery through Uber Eats, I definitely think we would probably be out of business."

Registering a restaurant on Uber Eats

When restaurants sign up to the Uber Eats platform they gain access to a range of services - including delivery services provided by couriers, pick-up, dine-in, online ordering - and a brand new customer base. When restaurants sign up to the Uber Eats platform they gain access to a range of services including:

  • Connecting restaurants with a network of customers who want to purchase food and refreshments;
  • Access to Uber Eats’ network of thousands of couriers who choose to earn using the platform;
  • Limited payment collection services and invoice generation;
  • Uber Eats Manager software, which gives restaurant managers access to insights about their customers, as well as analytics and sales data (for restaurants that use their own delivery drivers, the software enables restaurants to customise their service, such as setting their own delivery radius and delivery fee);
  • Access to the Uber Eats Support team, who ensure the technology and digital tools are up to speed and run smoothly every day.

Keeping restaurants going through Covid-19

During 2020, food delivery platforms became more important than ever before to keep restaurants going. One restaurant in London, for example, saw 144 days in 2020 and 137 in 2021 where it was not able to offer indoor dining at all. Across the whole of the UK, almost 10,000 restaurants, pubs, and cafes closed in 2020.3

In our survey, 87% of restaurants told us that Covid-19 had been challenging to their business. On average, restaurants reported seeing their revenue from in-person dining decline by over 20%.

Overall, how much of a challenge has Covid-19 been to your restaurant?

48% of restaurants we surveyed said that they had offered ordering through food delivery apps for the first time during Covid-19.

Change in revenue via channel since Covid-19

Restaurants were clear about the impact that food delivery apps like Uber Eats have had in keeping their businesses alive. In 2020-21:

In total, in 2020 we estimate that Uber Eats drove an additional £360 million to restaurants across the UK - or an increase of 145% over the year before.

Looking forward, it looks likely that much of the acceleration towards online food delivery will stay. In our survey, 63% of restaurants told us that orders via food delivery apps remained moderately or significantly higher than before Covid-19, and 84% expected to continue using food delivery apps after life returned to normal. 71% of restaurants said that they were confident that they would grow in the next year if they carry on using food delivery services.

Based on current patterns, we estimate that in the next five years the additional revenue generated by British restaurants using Uber Eats could increase to over £500 million a year. That would be enough to support the equivalent of over 1,000 new restaurants.

Additional Revenue to restaurants via Uber Eats (£mn)

Sheetal, Cakeaway, Manchester

Sheetal’s business Cakeaway has six branches across the Greater Manchester area and offers dessert takeaway from all of its locations as well as bespoke cake decorating services. The business has always been delivery focused, with up to 90% of its revenue coming through apps such as Uber Eats.

Unlike many other delivery businesses, Sheetal has her own fleet of drivers and uses Uber Eats to access new customers due to its large customer user base. “I can open up a new location and get access to all the customers I need.”

Sheetal also loves the user interface and usability of the Uber Eats app. “The tablet is really easy to use, I can put any staff member on it and they can work out how it works.” When asked why she preferred Uber Eats to other platforms, Sheetal further stressed how easy it was to change her menu.

“I can change the menu whenever I want. Let’s say we run out of coconut ice cream. I can instantly take it off the menu.”

How Uber helped restaurants during Covid-19

Restaurants all over the country could no longer rely on customers coming through their doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many restaurants turned to online delivery in order to keep their businesses going and to support their staff.

To support both restaurants and the customers they served, Uber Eats introduced a number of safety measures in 2020, including:

  • Contactless delivery: ‘No-contact’ delivery was made the default on all deliveries made using the Uber Eats app in the UK, where couriers left deliveries at doors for example.
  • Hygiene kits: Uber Eats provided access to and distributed free face coverings and hand sanitisers to couriers throughout the pandemic.
  • Safety checklist: Couriers were reminded to take certain safety measures in accordance with government guidelines before going online, such as wearing a face covering when picking up an order and washing or sanitising their hands before and after each delivery.
  • Restaurant guidance: Worked with the Food Standards Agency and public health organisations to disseminate safety guidance to restaurants, such as how to safely re-open after lockdown.
  • In-app feedback: Introduced the ability for both restaurants and couriers to report within the app any concerns in adherence to safety guidance.

Additionally, Uber Eats provided all restaurants with a 0% service fee for all pick up orders throughout the pandemic which helped to support highstreet footfall, and temporarily provided free daily payments (as opposed to the usual weekly billing cycle) to support restaurants with their cash flow.

To support key NHS workers, Uber provided 200,000 free rides and 100,000 free meals for NHS workers during the pandemic as well as free meals for homeless charities and victims of domestic violence.

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Expanding access to high quality food

One hundred years ago, the average family would enjoy a very monotonous diet. As late as the 1950s, eating out was almost unheard of for all but the very rich, while the average family would largely survive on a diet of meat and two veg.4 In the decades since the second World War, a succession of new technologies, cuisines and business models helped to transform the experience of eating for ordinary people. While in the 1950s, few families could afford to eat anywhere but their own homes, by the 1990s takeaway and eating out added up to a third of the amount spent on food.5

Average weekly expenditure on takeaway (£mn, real)

The smartphone and rise of online delivery has made it easier than ever for consumers to leaf through a menu, choose their order at the push of a button, and track its progress towards them. Putting in place the infrastructure to make this work however, is not always straightforward, and for the first decade of the web it was largely only done by large fast food chains.

Today, food delivery apps such as Uber Eats have made it far easier for restaurant businesses of all types and sizes to offer convenient delivery services - and in the process they have also made it far easier for ordinary families to conveniently enjoy a much wider range of high quality food.

Food delivery apps are now used widely across the UK. Of those surveyed in August 2021:

  • 58% of adults under 40 say that they used a food delivery app multiple times during the last year
  • 49% of the population say that they used a food delivery app at least once during the last year

When we asked Britons what the most important reasons were for using food delivery apps, the answers that were most popular were all related to convenience.  At the end of a long day at work, ordering a takeaway can help free up quality time to spend with friends and family. In total, we estimate that ordering dinner using the Uber Eats app helped free up 51 million hours of leisure time in 2020. On average, a delivery that is requested via the Uber Eats app takes under 30 minutes to arrive.

Which of the following, if any, are important reasons why you order using food delivery apps? Please select all that apply

In our survey, consumers agreed that food delivery apps had made it much easier to access better food:

Food delivery apps also make it easy to learn more information about your order. Every restaurant on the Uber Eats app has both a star rating from consumer reviews, and its Food Hygiene rating or status, issued by the Food Standards Agency. In August, the app also launched a pilot enabling restaurants to start displaying calorie count information for items on their menus. 60% of Uber Eats users told us that they thought it was important that food delivery apps provide information on the number of calories, while 45% thought that it might affect what they order.

Overall, 83% of Uber Eats users told us that they were satisfied with their experience of using the app.

Improving the quality of life during lockdown

In ordinary times, going to a restaurant is one of our favourite ways to enjoy ourselves. Eating out is the third most popular leisure activity outside the house, behind only shopping or socialising with friends and family. 46% of Britons say that being able to regularly eat out at a restaurant is important to them, and 40% say that it is important to be able to get takeaway.

In 2020 and 2021, for long stretches of the year, eating out was impossible. Even as late as the time of our polling in August 2021, around 21% of those we spoke to said that they still felt unsafe eating indoors at a restaurant.

During this time, food delivery apps such as Uber Eats continued to provide an invaluable way for consumers to access food from their favourite local restaurants during lockdown. 58% of Uber Eats users agreed that food delivery apps helped to improve their quality of life when they weren’t allowed to eat out.

Based on our poll, we estimate that:

In the last two years, the amount ordered through food delivery apps has significantly increased. KPMG estimates that the average annual spend on takeaway per person increased by 42% between 2019 and 2021, from £452 to £641.6

In our own poll, 46% of food delivery app users said that they had increased the amount they had ordered for delivery or takeaway, compared to 22% who said it had decreased.  

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Who delivers using the Uber Eats app?

Food delivery platforms have made it easier than ever to earn additional income on the side, in a way that suits your schedule - choosing your own hours, and how and where you want to deliver.

Today, people from a wide range of backgrounds use the Uber Eats app to earn additional income. In 2021:

According to Uber’s own internal data, only a very small minority (8%) of UK couriers choose to work more than 40 hours in the weeks where they work. Similarly, many couriers do not work every week, and only around a third (36%) of the couriers who responded to our survey said that earnings generated from their use of the Uber Eats app was their only personal source of income. Many Uber Eats couriers use multiple apps to earn additional income, with a third saying they also delivered using Deliveroo or Just Eat. Similarly, if Uber Eats did not exist, just 23% say that they would replace it with a full-time job.

On average, couriers told us that they spend around 10-15 hours delivering and earn around £100-£300 a week using the Uber Eats app. Compared to their next best alternative to delivering using Uber Eats app, we estimate that Uber Eats helps generate £68 million in additional income for couriers than they could have earned in another job.

For many people, working using a platform such as Uber Eats has helped to provide a crucial safety net during the financial turbulence of Covid-19. Around a third (32%) of those who started delivering since the start of the pandemic say that they had lost their other job, been furloughed or had their working hours reduced. This aligns with other recent research from Accenture, which found that 75% of the platform workers they surveyed said that platform work acted like a secondary financial safety net during the pandemic.7

Just over a quarter (28%) of Uber Eats couriers say that they typically choose to deliver by bike, and in London bike is the most popular mode for delivery (43%). Unsurprisingly, these couriers were also significantly more likely to say that enjoying cycling was an important reason why they chose to use the platform, with this the second most important reason after flexibility.

Uber Eats and Sustainability

Uber has committed to decarbonising its mobility platform in major European cities by 2030 and has ambitions to expand its zero emissions pledge to food delivery8. In the UK, Uber Eats has already taken steps to help reduce the use of single-use plastics and to encourage users to make greener choices. Key sustainability initiatives to date include:

  • Requiring users to opt-in to receiving single-use items like straws, cutlery, and napkins. Restaurants no longer include these items by default and since September 2019, at least 45 million users globally have not received single-use straws and cutlery as part of their orders.
  • Partnerships with the Sustainable Restaurant Association and Enviropack to help accelerate change within the restaurant sector. For example, Uber Eats’ work with Enviropack which provides partner restaurants with a range of discounted eco-friendly and reusable packaging options.
  • Partnering with City Harvest London to help put fresh surplus food to good use in a sustainable way, by redistributing to organisations that feed those in need. Through the partnership, in 2020-21 over 300,000 meals and over 130 tonnes of food were saved. 
  • From 21 May 2021, Uber Eats introduced the ability for all restaurant and grocery partners to implement the government’s 10p plastic bag charge for online delivery orders9.
In your own words, what has your experience with Uber Eats been like?

Overall, 77% of couriers we spoke to said that they were satisfied with their experience delivering using the Uber Eats app, with 42% saying that they were very satisfied. 46% said they expect to continue to deliver using the Uber Eats app for the foreseeable future.

Activating a courier account with Uber Eats

After registering your interest online on the Uber Eats website, you will be asked to add your personal details and upload the documents required for your chosen delivery vehicle; either a bike, car or motorbike.

Once these documents have been cleared, an independent provider of background screening and identity services will ensure that you have the right to work and can pass a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Once these have gone through the system, you are free to start accepting delivery requests.

The Uber Eats platform provides many user benefits to couriers to help ensure a safe and healthy experience for everyone involved.

  • 24/7 incident support through an in-app safety centre, and a dedicated Law Enforcement Response Team 
  • GPS tracking - friends and family can follow your route and will know when you have arrived safely, and there is a record of your trip if something happens
  • Phone anonymisation so you can contact consumers through the app privately
  • Ridecheck technology which will  automatically check if you are ok if a trip is taking longer than expected 
  • Emergency contacts, who will be immediately contacted by Uber Eats in the event of a serious accident or if we are unable to reach you after several attempts.
  • Launching Partner Protection with leading insurers to help protect eligible couriers from the financial cost of life-changing events, including sickness, injury and childbirth.

Rob – Business Builders

Rob started delivering using the Uber Eats app in January 2020 just before the pandemic. Compared to his previous role in IT this role, delivering using Uber Eatsallows him to meet new people which he greatly enjoys. The flexibility the Uber Eats app helps provides is another massive benefit, but for Rob it is not just a perk but a necessity.

Rob is at a very busy time in his life, he is currently studying at the Open University, on the adoption register and starting his own business. All these commitments require different hours each week; whether it's interviews with the council for adoption, studying for university or exploring business opportunities. He delivers using the Uber Eats app for around 25 hours a week, which provides the support and income necessary to pursue these other opportunities.

Not only does Uber Eats support Rob by providing access to flexible work opportunities but through their Business Builders programme they helped develop his business idea over an 8-week course alongside Enterprise Nation.10 This course allowed Rob to network with other entrepreneurs as well as access the Enterprise Nations collection of lawyers, intellectual property experts and accountants for expert advice to help get his business off the ground.

“The gig economy helped us all earn while allowing our ideas to germinate.”

The Importance of Flexibility

When we asked why people chose to earn using the Uber Eats app, the most popular answer was flexibility. In 2021:

This is unsurprising. In our previous research on the gig economy, we have repeatedly found that workers overwhelmingly choose platform work because of the freedom and flexibility it provides.11 Drivers using Uber’s ride sharing platform, for example, are nearly three times as likely (55%) to choose flexibility of hours as an important factor when looking for a job, as compared to the general public (20%). 

For this survey, 80% of those we spoke to agreed that delivering using the Uber Eats app provides significantly more flexibility than their past roles. In total, we estimate that this flexibility is worth the equivalent of over £100 million for couriers.

One reason that this flexibility is so important is that a significant majority of couriers who choose to use the Uber Eats app couriers (80%) have other responsibilities:

87% of those who care for another adult or child agree that the flexibility provided by app-based work makes it easier to balance family and work responsibilities.

In your own words, what do you most like about delivering?12

I love interacting with people and I love cycling. I get new experiences daily. Man, 31, London

Love the fact that I can log in and log off any time I like. Driving around seeing places, freedom and flexibility. Woman, 38, East of England

I like being on the road with my bike. Having the opportunity to discover the city which I would not have time to do with a full time job. Keeping myself fit and earning money at the same time. Man, 39, Scotland

Being flexible and being able to work when it suits me and my family, as well as trying to get work / life balance. Woman, 38, South West

I like the flexibility to do Uber after my full time job and at weekends. It gives you freedom and lets you earn extra income until payday at the end of the month. Man, 36, Northern Ireland

I like being able to have total flexibility as I care for my mother. I really like meeting new people and getting a good working relationship with regularly visited businesses. I like being able to see almost immediately how much I have earned. I really get the feel good factor when customers are very happy. Woman, 42, London

It's a very stress free job compared to others I have worked in, particularly cheffing. It is very nice to be able to work outdoors rather than being stuck in a dingy room every day. Man, 35, South West

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Impact on Restaurants

The model utilizes Uber’s internal data on total amounts remitted to restaurants via Uber Eats, and this is proportioned out to each city according to number of deliveries. We estimate the proportion that is additional using the average of:

  • The self-reported estimate from the  consumer polling of how much spend is additional, and would not have been ordered if food delivery apps did not exist.
  • The mid-point of Collison (2020)’s estimated range of the proportion of dollars spent on food delivery apps that are incremental.

As with any hypothetical, it is impossible to perfectly estimate what the world would have looked like either without Uber Eats specifically, or food delivery platforms more generally. This is particularly true in a year like 2020, where many restaurants often had no idea other way to deliver to customers. However, we believe that this estimates gives a conservative way of apportioning the spend that is likely to be additional.

Following a standard input-output methodology, we base all our multipliers on the latest ONS Input-Output tables (2015 detailed, 2019)13, using these to construct a type 1 and type 2 multiplier for the UK. These multipliers are used to show the total impact via restaurants Uber Eats has on the economy.

In order to estimate the potential future impact of Uber Eats for restaurants we combined:

  • Our existing estimate of the additional revenue being remitted to restaurants from Uber Eats
  • Statista’s estimate of the annual growth rate of the overall food delivery market in the UK over the next four years14
  • ONS Annual Business Survey data on average turnover per restaurant

Impact for couriers

In order to estimate the value of flexibility and net additional income for couriers we combined:

  • data provided by Uber Eats on total earnings remitted to couriers in the UK
  • the self-reported relative value of flexibility from Canadian couriers who use the Uber Eats app.
  • the self-reported increase in income from couriers who use the Uber Eats app compared to their next best alternative

You can find more details of our methodology from Canada here.

In addition, we sense checked these checks against other estimates from our recent studies for Uber UK on the value of flexibility to drivers.

Total Economic Impact

Total economic impact is calculated as the sum of:

  • Payouts to couriers
  • Indirect and induced impact of couriers spending on vehicles.
  • Induced impact of additional driver income.
  • Indirect and induced impact of restaurant spending via Uber Eats.

This measure is a gross estimate, looking at the total amount of economic activity supported by Uber Eats. It does not attempt to measure what would happen in a hypothetical where Uber no longer existed.

Our modelling does not include the impact of Uber's direct investment or employment footprint as a company.

Time Saved by Uber Eats

To estimate the total leisure time saved from people using Uber Eats, we utilised the ONS’ time use survey conducted in the Covid-19 lockdown. This survey showed the average daily time spent making food and drinks, cooking or washing up, which we adjusted to be the equivalent time cooking or washing up for one evening meal.15

We multiplied this figure by UberEats’ internal data on total deliveries in the UK,  assuming that ordering from Uber Eats saves both the washing up and cooking time for that meal.

  2. The Impact of Online Food Delivery Services on Restaurant Sales, Jack Collison, 2020,
  5. The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain Volume II
  11. See also, for example, or
  12. Quotes have been edited for spelling and grammar, but are otherwise unchanged.
  13. Dataset UK input-output analytical tables