Analysts at eMarketer predict another year of double-digit growth in users of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, but they think that will be the end of such high-rate growth. Airbnb, on the other hand, could still see a spike in lodgers.

"While Uber has steadily expanded to more cities across the US, we expect demand for transportation-oriented sharing economy services, like Uber, to reach a cap," said eMarketer forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco in a statement.

The firm predicts 15 million U.S. adults will use ride-sharing services in 2016, and 17 million in 2017. The numbers reflect growth in usership of 20.5 percent and 13.3 percent, respectively. Users grew by more than 50 percent in 2014 and 2015, so growth has already slowed. By 2018, eMarketer predicts the number of riders will increase by only 7.2 percent.

Why the projected slowdown? Orozco points out a few factors:

  • Continued competition from traditional taxi services
  • Regulations and government bans
  • Saturation among business travelers, a group that has driven growth

Speaking of travel, U.S. consumers are doing more of that and for shorter stays, according to eMarketer. Orozco says that trend, plus competitive advantages of Airbnb and vacation rental marketplace HomeAway, mean the lodging portion of the sharing economy is poised for continued double-digit percentage growth.

"More rental units are coming online and, on average, rates are significantly undercutting traditional hotel room rates," he said.

The firm predicts a 22 percent hike in users of lodging services in the sharing economy this year, followed by growth of 15.5 percent and 11.4 percent in 2017 and 2018. By the end of 2018, the firm expects there will be 16.2 million U.S. adult users.

Published on: May 17, 2016