Uber saw record gross bookings in March 2021, according to a filing posted Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The increase may signal the beginning of a comeback for the ride-hailing business, which suffered mightily in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Uber’s mobility segment, which includes its ride-hailing business, was up 9 percent last month from March 2020, with an annualized run rate of $30 billion. Uber’s food delivery segment UberEats, which helped the company stave off even bigger losses in 2020, doubled its annual run rate from March of last year, coming in at $52 billion, a 150 percent year-over-year increase.
“As vaccination rates increase in the United States, we are observing that consumer demand for Mobility is recovering faster than driver availability, and consumer demand for Delivery continues to exceed courier availability,” Uber said in the SEC filing.
In February, Uber reported it lost $968 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 and had a net loss of $6.7 billion for the year, which improved on its $8.5 billion loss in full-year 2019. Its UberEats division saw gross bookings rise 130 percent in the fourth quarter, to $10.05 billion.
Uber said on April 7th that it was launching a $250 million “stimulus” of incentives for its drivers to coax them back behind the wheel. The company said in a blog post announcing the incentive program that many drivers had stopped driving in 2020 because they weren’t getting enough trips to make it worth their time. Dennis Cinelli, Uber’s vice president for mobility in the US and Canada, wrote in the post that “in 2021, there are more riders requesting trips than there are drivers available to give them—making it a great time to be a driver.”
In Monday’s filing, Uber also cautioned that it expects a “significant accrual” in costs after it reclassified all its drivers in the UK as workers last month.
Uber will release its first-quarter financial results on May 5th.