This is a great time to be in the pet industry! That’s the overwhelming conclusion of America’s pet retailers in Pet Product News’ Future of the Pet Industry 2015 survey. Optimism among retailers was high—with most continuing to anticipate healthy sales growth in the next year. One big reason is the growth of pets as members of the family with premium foods expected to be a high-growth area. But the study also found retailers continuing to find new ways to expand. The number of brick-and-mortar stores who also have an online business has grown—and e-commerce is providing healthy revenue.
The exclusive Pet Product News 2015 survey was conducted in late Spring by Readex, which since 1947 has been one of America’s most respected research organizations. The Pet Product News 2015 survey found that a majority of stores are now either owned or managed by women. Among new businesses (those open five years or less) the proportion owned or managed by women was even bigger. Are there headwinds? Of course, but even those were not enough to dent the overall optimism. The biggest threat to business was the economy, although only half of businesses listed that as a major concern. The second biggest threat was competition from online vendors—but most stores say their customers trust them for advice and education, something big online vendors cannot compete with. For the same reason, even though the majority of independent pet retailers have a Big-Box competitor with two miles, most retailers don’t feel that hurts their sales. Looking into the future, live animals sales are playing a smaller part. Only 24 percent of stores now sell live animals, and among new businesses the figure is smaller. Just five years ago that was more than 40 percent.
But one area that is growing is the number of stores partnering with local shelters and rescue organizations with in-store adoption events and other campaigns. The pet industry is continuing to evolve and grow. And Pet Product News plans to evolve and grow right alongside it! Pet Product News International is the #1 magazine for pet retailers. And with the industry’s first smart-phone friendly website, PetProductNews.com, as well as daily e-newsletters, it’s #1 online too!
How many years have you been in operation?
What makes you optimistic about the future of your pet business?
What was your sales volume in 2014?
What is your anticipated sales forecast for 2015?
What percentage of your sales were from these categories in 2014?
What categories do you anticipate selling more of in the next five years?
What are the biggest threats to your business?
Who's afraid of the bad big-box store?
How much did the presence of a big-box store impact your sales in 2014?
Which of the following have you done in the past 12 months?
MARGO DeMELLO OF THE ANIMALS AND SOCIETY INSTITUTE SAYS ANIMALS WILL BECOME EVEN MORE A PART OF OUR FAMILIES...
It’s tempting to think that our future will be filled with cloned animals, genetically modified (nonallergenic! tiny!) creatures, virtual animals like lolcats (images of cats) and robotic pets. But I think the reality is that as we continue to crave more intimate relationships with nonhuman animals, perhaps to fill the gap in our human relationships, we will simply incorporate animals ever more deeply into our own families.
The pet-care industry will capitalize on this by providing more buying opportunities for consumers—greater variety in pet supplies; more travel opportunities for people with pets; “pet cams” and pet cafes for people who want to keep an eye on their pets when they’re away or want to visit with animals if they can’t have a pet; more options in the pet-bereavement and burial business; and more advanced (and expensive) treatment options in veterinary care.
And scientific studies will continue to show that pets can be beneficial for human health, leading to an increase in therapy pets, service pets and emotional-support animals.
Anatole France, the French poet and novelist, may have put it best: “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
Margo DeMello is program director for human-animal studies at the Animals and Society Institute in Ann Arbor, Mich., and president of House Rabbit Society, a nonprofit group in Richmond, Calif.