Pet boom shakes up the holiday gift list

Hillary Kladke | Getty Images

During the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, Meagan Remmes felt a tug of war for the company after being fired from her job and spending long days in a quiet home. She found her answer about two weeks ago in an abandoned box near her mailbox.

She heard a moan. Inside, she found a several week old puppy wrapped in a towel.

Her new rescue puppy, Locust, is one of many to have joined families through adoption and foster care during the pandemic, as Americans seek companionship and find it in pets, from reptiles to cats. As Americans gear up for the holidays, retailers and industry watchers predict that the pet boom could boost sales of dog treats, cat furniture, ugly Christmas sweaters the size of ‘a pet and other gifts throughout the holiday season.

Pet products are expected to be one of the top categories for gifts, according to a survey by consulting firm Deloitte. About half of the more than 4,000 people surveyed by the company said they plan to purchase pet food and supplies during the holiday season. On average, they plan to spend $ 90 on pet items, such as gifts for their own dog or for a family member or friend’s pet.

About one in four people said they plan to buy pet toys, decorations and accessories as gifts. About 15% of those surveyed said they hoped to receive them as a gift.

Walmart has said it is ready to sell more than 3 million pet beds. Chewy said he will be giving gift cards and personalized mugs, blankets and bandanas for the first time this holiday. And PetSmart will offer a mix of seasonal clothing – including Santa costumes for bearded dragons.

Rod Sides, vice president of retail and distribution at Deloitte, said pet owners need supplies for their new pets. He said historical purchasing patterns show pets come first, even when budgets are tight.

“A lot of times, pets are a pretty recession-resistant category,” he said. “People will continue to spend on their pets, just as they do on their children and their families.”

PetSmart offers a wide range of seasonal pet gifts and costumes, including some for bearded dragons.

Source: PetSmart

A $ 53 billion market

Even before the pandemic, pet care spending was on an upward trajectory. The $ 131 billion global industry is expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 7% over the next five years, according to a study by Jefferies. The United States is the pet care industry’s largest market – a market of around $ 53 billion that is expected to grow to around $ 64 billion over the next four years, the company said.

Jefferies chief executive Steph Wissink said some millennials have delayed having children and treated pets like family. She said the explosion of new tools is making possession easier and more convenient for younger, digitally-savvy customers, whether it’s automatic food deliveries through Chewy or arranging for pet sitting. via Wag.

Deloitte’s Sides said the popularity of sharing pet videos and photos on social media has led to the need for more toys and accessories. He said pet owners also have an ever-growing assortment of products to buy, ranging from organic foods and grooming tools to medication and pet insurance.

Wissink said other pandemic trends have bolstered pet ownership. More and more people are buying houses in suburban or rural areas where they have room for additional animals. Since employees work remotely, they can housebreak a new puppy or take a dog for regular walks.

She said the pet boom will have a lasting effect on the industry that goes beyond the holiday season.

“A pet is not a temporary investment,” she said. “When you buy a pet, it’s a multi-year commitment. You don’t get a pet and it goes away when the Covid vaccine comes out.”

Walmart plans to sell more than 3 million pet beds and other products, such as candy-like chew candles and Santa-themed plush toys.

Source: Walmart

“ Pet parents have more time ”

Before the pandemic inspired a wave of adoptions, PetSmart customers were already switching to high-end foods and buying more accessories, like a bunch of different dog collars, said Stacia Andersen, executive vice president. of PetSmart merchandising and customer experience.

She said these trends have intensified in recent months as many Americans get their first pet, adopt another, or get a specialized pet, such as a lizard. She said the pet supermarket chain, which has around 1,650 stores in the United States and Canada, has seen more sales of starter supplies, such as kits for a new reptile owner.

And she said Arcadia Trail, her new private line of tents and life jackets designed for dogs, was very popular as pet owners went on more and more outdoor adventures.

Chewy CEO Sumit Singh said the online pet retailer saw higher sales as people bought supplies to welcome new pets, such as crates and feeding bowls. . People are also buying more toys and treats, he said.

“Parents of pets have more time. We all have more time,” he said. “When you have the time and there are more people in the house, the animals are actually more entertained and engaged.”

Chewy’s actions reflect his opportunity related to the pandemic. Its shares have risen more than 141% so far this year, bringing its market value to $ 28.9 billion.

More and more sales are moving online and Chewy has an advantage there. He is known for his Autoship program, a subscription service that regularly provides refills of pet food, kitty litter and more at home. The program generates nearly 70% of Chewy’s net sales.

The company adds new services. The growth of animal adoptions inspired Chewy to speed up the launch of a telehealth service that allows pet owners to get veterinarian advice on common concerns.

Meanwhile, specialty pet supermarkets PetSmart and Petco both added online shopping pickup to their stores in the spring. Private companies declined to share their sales figures, but said they had already increased.

Darren MacDonald, director of digital and innovation at Petco, said the home redecorating trend has spilled over into the pet category.

After buying a desk and other furniture, he says, “people went out and freshened up their dog beds and essential supplies.”

PetSmart offers a wide range of seasonal pet gifts and costumes, including some for bearded dragons.

Source: PetSmart

“No one will return it”

In Walmart stores and on its website, pet owners will find Christmas items like chewy dogs shaped like candy canes.

Melody Richard, vice president of Walmart Pets, said the pet category “definitely has a seasonal bump.” Yet this year, she said, the retailer acknowledged it was an even bigger opportunity because “there are so many Covid puppies and Covid kittens.”

“We’re already seeing pet vacation shopping and we’re excited about it,” she said.

Target said it has increased its assortment of cat scratchers, which come in fun designs, like red gift wrap with a bow. It has matching red flannel pajamas that comes in sizes for cats, dogs, and humans.

The retailer estimates that more than 70% of households that buy its stores have a pet.

The locust is one of the puppies that can boost vacation spending this year. Meagan Remmes said she and her husband are planning to buy their new puppy this holiday season and expect Locust to receive gifts from friends and family as well.

Source: Megan Remmes

Remmes, who found her puppy near her mailbox in North Carolina, said she was looking on Etsy for a toy box for the puppy’s growing collection. She said she could buy some seasonal clothes as well.

“I have certainly already started to think about making it part of the Christmas card,” she said.

Locust has already received an ID tag and other gifts from friends and family – and Remmes also has a hunch that the puppy is on their Christmas list as well, she said. Her mother-in-law calls regularly to check on her “little puppy”.

Andersen of PetSmart said this year, in particular, that the gifts will be a way to thank pets who have offered comfort during a difficult time. And, she added, they tend to be more enthusiastic gift recipients.

“There is nothing more fun than giving a gift to a pet because no one will return it,” she said. “Other than maybe they spat it out, you’re in pretty good shape.”

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About Jessica Zavala

Jessica Zavala

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