Dockless shared micromobility services have grown substantially in recent years, but their impact upon consumer demand has remained largely unstudied. The authors of this study estimate how the largest and fastest-growing segment of this market — the dockless electric scooter (‘e-scooter’) sharing industry — impacts spending in one of the largest segments of the local economy, the restaurant industry.
Using data covering 391 companies in 98 U.S. cities, the authors find that the introduction of e-scooters in a city significantly impacts restaurant spending, increasing treated individuals’ spending by approximately 4.4%, driving incremental spending of at least $10.2 million annually across all cities that first allowed e-scooters to operate over summer 2018.
Impact varies by restaurant subcategory, with a strong positive effect upon fast food restaurant spending, and an insignificant effect upon sitdown restaurant spending. E-scooter entry has a larger impact upon companies with higher revenues selling at lower prices. It facilitates the discovery of new restaurants from prospective customers and repeat business from already-acquired customers. The authors infer an insignificant effect for non-restaurant in-store spending, implying the positive effects observed in the restaurant industry are not offset by negative effects at local businesses outside of it.