NEW YORK (AP) — While shoppers are getting everything from morning coffee to complete work wardrobes delivered to their homes, some businesses are working with ride-hailing company Uber to entice customers through their doors.
Uber launched a voucher program Tuesday that enables companies like Westfield Mall and TGI Fridays to dole out free or discounted rides to customers, offering a way for retailers to counter declining foot traffic heightened by the growth of online shopping.
Retail traffic has declined 2.3 percent over the last two years, according to Cowen Equity Research. Malls in particular have experienced a drop-off as younger generations living in urban centers have shown little interest in owning cars and taking trips to suburban shopping malls, said Jon Reily, vice president and global commerce strategy lead at Publicis Sapient. The growing number of retail bankruptcies illustrates the problem, he said.
“That’s a great move for malls to get people in the door, because malls need footfall, and anything that they can do to get that is a good thing,” Reily said.
Restaurants are also participating in the Uber vouchers, including some that are already delivering food to customers’ homes through Uber Eats.
Getting diners back into the restaurant — even if it means paying for their ride — could enable restaurants to make more money since customers could be more inclined to order a dessert or alcoholic beverage than if they ordered delivery to their homes.
Alcohol is a money-maker for restaurants, and delivering happy hour margaritas or cocktails in an Uber car isn’t a viable option. Uber does deliver alcohol from a very limited number of restaurants, but it is not available to most customers.
“Our bartenders might hand these out as a way to ensure we’re providing a great guest experience,” said Sherif Mityas, chief strategy officer at TGI Fridays.
The vouchers — like coupons — could be given out as a perk to rewards members, creating another visit that might not happen otherwise, Mityas said.