Is 6pm too early for dinner? Here's how COVID changed our daily timetable, according to Uber

Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / Getty ImagesImage, Getty
  • Uber Australia unveiled its first Movement Index, highlighting the changing patterns of behaviour across Uber rides and Uber Eats orders.
  • It found that during the height of the coronavirus restrictions, commute times shifted earlier.
  • The report also found that dinner times changed from 8pm to 6pm.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Uber Australia released its first Movement Index, which shows how travel and food patterns changed in Australia during 2020.

The report looks at the patterns of demand across Uber and Uber Eats in July 2020 compared to both April 2020 and July 2019. While it doesn’t represent the volume or number of rides taken, it instead looks at the percentage of weekly rides at that time stamp to pinpoint the patterns.

During the peak of COVID restrictions, Aussies used the Uber app for commuting, while going on nights out vanished.

“Ever since Uber launched in Australia, our periods of highest demand have been Friday and Saturday night,” Amanda Gilmore of Uber Australia and New Zealand said in the Index. “But during the height of nation-wide restrictions, Friday and Saturday night trips saw some of the biggest drops, while the morning and afternoon commute was the most resilient ‘use case’.”

According to the report, Sydneysiders were the last to leave at around 5pm.

Commute times in general across Australian capital cities moved earlier during April 2020, highlighting the impact of flexible work options. It also indicated a rise in essential workers like healthcare staff and teachers using Uber at the time.

But Aussies are starting to get back to their pre-COVID commute patterns.

The July data found many capital cities are showing signs of going back to normal commute times, with both Sydney and Perth afternoon commute times back to after 6pm.

Demand on Friday and Saturday nights are also returning to the levels of the same time last year, except for in Victoria, which is facing some of Australia’s most stringent restrictions.

“The biggest change between April and July has been the return of weekend social occasions,” Gilmore said. “People are back out visiting restaurants and pubs with strikingly similar patterns as they did this time last year.”

The July data also shows the early signs of domestic travel within states.

How Uber Eats patterns changed

In a similar vein to commute times, peak dinner time on Uber Eats moved up from 8pm to 6pm earlier this year.

Pick-up orders saw a rapid uptick since January across all metropolitan cities.

“Melburnians had the biggest spike in picking up their orders in June, whereas other capital cities had the biggest spike in pick-up during March and April,” Matt Denman of Uber Eats Australia and New Zealand said in the Index.

“And while Friday has long been a popular day for ordering in, we also saw the rise of ‘Takeaway Tuesday’, particularly for pick-up orders’.”

In Melbourne, between June and July, there was a 17% increase in evening orders as people stayed at home.

And when looking at lunchtime orders in July, the highest volume occurred in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney compared to any other month so far in 2020.

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