The gig economy has transformed over the past year, especially as more consumers relied on delivery intermediaries, including DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Instacart.

What is a gig economy company?

The gig economy, also referred to as the sharing economy, consists of independent contractors providing services for everything from personal transportation—including Uber and Lyft—to food delivery, such as DoorDash and Instacart.

Top gig economy companies

There are several key players in the gig economy space, some of whom have seen strong growth amid the pandemic. 

Insider Intelligence has rounded up some of the top gig economy companies, and we take a look at what the current state of the space looks like.

Uber and Lyft

Ride sharing services saw a decline in 2020 as consumers spent the majority of their time sheltering in place. In fact, ride sharing sales decreased from 43.6 billion in 2019 to $23.1 billion in 2020—a 47% drop. This year there will be a slight increase, however we won’t see pre-pandemic levels until 2023.

Uber and Lyft remain the market leaders, with the former having 65.0% of market share in the US, while the latter has 29.8%. “Uber will see a faster recovery than Lyft in 2021 mainly because Uber managed to keep more of their user base engaged with restaurant deliveries,” said Eric Haggstrom, eMarketer senior forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence. “Since Lyft only operates in transportation, they will need to work harder to reengage old users and gain new ones.”

DoorDash

DoorDash saw exponential growth last year when it tripled its sales. We expect sales will continue growing, reaching $28.6 billion by 2021—an increase from last year’s $19.9 billion.

Many factors have led to the company’s success. For one, unlike some of its competitors, DoorDash works with restaurants that haven’t traditionally offered delivery to customers. Indeed, many have had to shut down indoor dining and overall adjust the way they run their business—and delivery has been a saving grace for many. What’s more, DoorDash not only focuses on big cities, but on suburbs and smaller urban areas as well. This has given them a big opportunity to grow sales in key areas that may have otherwise been overlooked.

“And Dashpass, DoorDash’s subscription service has also benefited their business in the same way that Prime has benefitted Amazon’s business,” said Haggstrom.

Uber Eats

Just like DoorDash, Uber’s restaurant delivery business, Uber Eats, saw a significant boost in sales in 2020, and growth will continue to rise—close to 60%—by the end of 2021.

Breaking it down, Uber Eats’ sales reached $12.2 billion last year, up 107% from 2019. And sales will increase by 58.6% in 2021, reaching $19.3 billion. By 2023, the business will account for roughly a third of the total restaurant delivery market.

Instacart

There’s no doubt that online grocery shopping was a service that many adults in the US tried for the first time last year. And Instacart certainly reaped the benefit of this new shopping habit—receiving 21.5% of all groceries bought online in 2020.This year, we expect Instacart will see a 11.3% growth, “roughly in line with the overall online grocery market,” according to Haggstrom.

Future of gig economy and gig workers

By and large, growth is expected across many gig economy companies throughout the different sectors. While we may not see pre-pandemic levels for a few years, there’s no doubt that the grocery and restaurant space has seen a boost thanks in large part to a change in consumer behavior over the past year.