COVID-19 boosts Chinese Online Food Delivery

The online food delivery market is expected to grow by 16.4% in China in 2020

The Western world finds itself in the middle of the outbreak. Restrictions on businesses and personal freedom are becoming tighter every day across Europe and America. As shops and restaurants are forced to close, schools have shut their doors and sent students home, and more and more cultural events and public activities are being forbidden across Europe and the U.S., China is slowly recovering. After the dramatic surge in Corona cases in February and early March, China has regained control over the spread of the virus. Only a handful of new infections have been registered in Hubei, the region where it all began, in the past days. Quarantine and other social restrictions are slowly being loosened.

Maybe it is time to draw a tentative interim conclusion on some short-term effects of COVID-19 on the Chinese economy.



While traditional industries like manufacturing or tourism have suffered tremendous losses from the Chinese shut-down policies, various online services have benefitted. Movement restrictions, city-entry bans and mandatory self-isolation measures forced people to stay at home in some neighborhoods. Others put themselves in quarantine voluntarily out of insecurity or anxiousness. Going to the supermarket also seemed risky to many. A safer way to get food was to have it delivered to their doorsteps.

Compared to other countries, Online Food Delivery was already very strong in China before the COVID-19 crisis. According to the Statista Digital Market Outlook, the market generated US$40.2 billion in 2019, which is the highest Online Food Delivery revenue worldwide. With 329.6 million people using the services, which is more than three times the U.S. user base, home delivery of meals ordered online is as popular as nowhere else in the world. The original growth forecast by the Statista Digital Market Outlook estimated a rise of 14.1% in gross merchandise value in the Online Food Delivery market for 2020. The unforeseeable Corona outbreak has – understandably enough – confused this forecast. Taking into account that orders have doubled or tripled in a 3.5-month period, restaurants have been closed and people anxious to leave the house, but also the shortage of delivery drivers due to quarantine and confirmed Corona cases, an additional rise in gross merchandise value of 2.3 percentage points is likely, resulting in an estimated overall growth of 16.4% for the Food Delivery Market in China between 2019 and 2020.

You want to find out more about the effects of the Corona pandemic on different industries? Check out the whitepaper “COVID-19” released by the Statista digital market outlook here, which will be updated on a regular basis.


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March 2020