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How Did Hurricane Hilary Affect Delivery?
Severe weather's effect on food delivery sales
While this past weekend’s Hurricane Hilary thankfully caused very limited damage, the run-up to the storm had everyone battening down the hatches as Southern Californians awaited what was billed as the storm of the century.
With the sun having long since returned, that got me thinking — how did the storm, as well as the anticipation of the storm, affect food delivery sales? Did people stock up in advance? Did everyone head to Costco instead of their apps? Were self-centered consumers asking couriers to bring them food even at the height of the downpour, while the National Weather Service was blasting warnings to stay off the roads? (Warnings that DoorDash heeded.)
To gather the necessary data, I turned to our partners at Orderbyte, an online ordering automation and delivery dispatching service based in L.A. And I must say, the numbers tell an interesting story.
On Saturday, the day before the storm, folks finally started taking the incoming weather system seriously (anyone at the grocery store can attest that flashlights and water bottles disappeared overnight.) Food delivery was no different, as orders shot up a whopping 43.82% compared to an average Saturday; not only were Southern Californians hunkering down, they were going to have a feast while they did so. The average order value also shot up, from around $35 to $55, a 57% spike.
Orderbyte Co-Founder Gary Chaglasyan was in touch with restaurants that were experiencing a surge, and noted, “we saw that customers were really stocking up in preparation for the storm. One of our pizza shop operators had customers order a whopping 10 pies, others 6-8 pies at a time."
On Sunday 8/20, the main day of the storm, order volume fell 42.76%, compared to an average Sunday, as folks nervously watched the water levels rise, and chewed over the prior day’s big delivery hauls. The few people that did delivery that day were putting in smaller orders, averaging $33.50.
Elements of the storm lingered through Monday, with sales volume still down 33.23%, and average orders sticking to $33.50. On Tuesday the skies were once again fully sunny, but sales were still a tad depressed: down 23.7% compared to an average Tuesday; average order value did creep up a bit to $37. Gary’s theory is that overall the market was bifurcated and confused, with some folks still eating through their “emergency” rations, while others were ready to resume the normal behavior.
By Wednesday, things had fully normalized — with both order volume and value back within normal bounds. As I look outside my apartment window right now, I see one neighbor manning his grill. I guess we all made it through the storm unscathed and well-fed!
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HOT INDUSTRY NEWS & GOSSIP
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In bot news: Walmart is teaming up with both DroneUp and Alphabet’s Wing to expand drone delivery. Both Starship and Cartken are serving new college campuses as the school year looms its head. And Serve is looking for a Head of Advertising Sales.
Are we returning to the office, or not? New data shows that downtown desks remain empty. Around the globe, 36% of desks are unoccupied throughout the workweek, and even of the desks that are used, a plurality are only occupied three hours or fewer per day. While most cities are hungry for workers, Jakarta instead is forcings its civil servants to work from home; it’ll even fine those that dare to leave their home offices. House builders seem to be wising up that workers aren’t heading back soon, a record 48% of new homes have four or more “bedrooms” - with those rooms occupied more by computers than toddlers. Maybe that’s also why malls are making a comeback; foot-traffic is up in both high and low end shopping centers.
The sad state of street vending: In NYC, a sweep of the popular Corona street market has put dozens of marginalized workers out of jobs. The city swears it has a plan to add a permitted vending area, perhaps similar to the once-per-month Bronx Street Market, but progress has been slow. Over in LA, lonchero and cart-based vendors alike have been complaining about robberies, with unpermitted street vendors particularly afraid of reporting the crimes.
Shoupistas, rejoice! It’s the godfather of parking reform, Donald Shoup’s, birthday. Wish him a happy 85th, alongside our friends at the Parking Reform Network.
Ebike rebates go statewide: Following a popular Denver-only program, the state of Colorado launches its statewide ebike rebate program. $6.6M is allocated to the fund, with rebates as high as $1,750 depending on resident income. One can quibble with the point of sale requirements for the program (a weird way to try to make this program generate “local jobs”) but all in all this should be expanded and adopted across the country.
Speaking of e(cargo)bikes: I chat with Monocle Mag about how the U.S. can learn from Britain when it comes to getting electric cargo bikes to take over our streets.
A few good links: Toronto turns to Australia’s SenSen to code its curb (anyone have any details on this? Seems odd to snub the local players…) Automotus’ Prajwal Kotamraju named to Forbes' 30 under 30. Chain restaurants like IHOP shown to have a positive impact on cross-class encounters. NYC looks to ban non-certified ebikes and scooters. Jerome Horne on CitiesFirst podcast. MobilityFund expands (proud to work with this great team.) LACI gets $1.5M for clean truck charging. Cruise cuts fleet in half after robotaxis behave badly. Used EVs pile up in China. LA Metro planning seven new bus lanes in time for Olympics. NYC adding giant bike lane in Hell’s Kitchen (Heaven’s bike shop?) BART to Silicon Valley inches forward. Teamsters ratify contract. Eviction moratorium and rental assistance effective at reducing homelessness (ok, so can we keep it?) How YIMBYs and organizer labor made peace. Parkopedia and Just Park merge data for 100,000 spots. What happens to all that crap you return to Amazon? Arcimoto gets into defense. Meet the last honest automobile.
Until next week!
- Jonah Bliss & The Curbivore Crew