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Scooters Drive Significant Spending in Cities, New Emory Study Finds

March 11th, 2021

As countries look to rebuild, recover and spur economic growth in the wake of COVID-19, a new study from Emory University finds that e-scooter programs drive significant consumer spending in cities.

“Our results suggest [e-scooters’ impact] is statistically and economically significant — $921 in spending created per e-scooter deployed on average over 6 months, or $13.8M across 370 food and beverage companies in SM’s coverage universe,” Daniel McCarthy, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Emory University, wrote on Twitter.

McCarthy co-authored the study along with Emory University PhD student Kyeongbin Kim. The duo’s research began in 2019, analyzing more than a year of e-scooter availability data and five years of credit card data. According to their project summary:

“We compared consumer purchase patterns in six cities that allowed e-scooters to operate—Atlanta, Austin, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Washington DC–to six otherwise similar cities that did not—Phoenix, Houston, Rochester, Cambridge, Seattle, and Boston. We also compared purchase behavior before e-scooters were first allowed to operate to purchase behavior after.”

And the result? Across the board, e-scooter activity leads to consumer spending in ways that Emory’s assistant professor of marketing describes as “eerily similar to how people impulse-buy products at a grocery store.”

“All the data points to the same conclusion: e-scooters drive consumer spending and likely provide a significant financial boon to local economies,” said McCarthy. “Obviously cities have many factors to consider when choosing to partner with Scoot and Bird or others in the micromobility industry, but the economic benefit to local businesses should not be understated.”

The impressive economic findings come just a week after new Scoot and Bird data was released providing important new insights on the short and long-term impacts of shared micro-EVs.