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These Pet Product Categories Have Experienced “Sales Boom” During COVID-19 Pandemic


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Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all four sectors of the U.S. pet industry, including pet food, non-food pet supplies, veterinary services and non-medical services. However, due to regulatory restrictions and social distancing, pet services rather than pet products are bearing the brunt of the blow, according to market research firm Packaged Facts in its recently updated study U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2020-2021: The COVID-19 Impact.

“Because non-discretionary and also the largest pet industry sector by sales, pet food is the usual suspect for preserving through the current crisis the pet market’s reputation for being recession-resistant, if not recession-proof,” officials said in a statement. “But less likely market heroes have also emerged, including non-food pet supplies and pets other than dogs and cats.”

Two main factors account for the “robust sales” of pet products during this time, according to officials. First, there was an uptick in pet adoption, which “swelled into a surge of pet acquisition.” This generated a “sales boom” for higher-ticket pet durables such as habitats, carriers, bedding, along with novelty and pampering purchases such as pet toys and accessories, officials said.

Second, sales have spiked for at-home, do-it-yourself dog and cat grooming and oral care products, which was driven by the closure and/or limitations of veterinary clinics or professional salons offering these services, officials said.

“With these developments, Packaged Facts expects pet product sales to notch up 8 percent from $55 billion in 2019 to nearly $59 billion in 2020,” officials added.

In regard to pet adoption, the boost was anticipated because ownership rates for dogs—though not cats or other types of pets—notched up in the wake of the Great Recession, rising from 34.9 percent of U.S. households in 2007 to 38.1 percent by 2011, according to officials.

“This pattern has repeated itself and then some, with pet appeal unleased in full force,” said David Sprinkle, research director for the Rockville, Md.-based company.

Among U.S. adults, 5 percent adopted a dog in the three-month period generally corresponding to initial COVID-19 impact era, “a windfall in a market where dogs account for two-thirds of product and service sales,” officials said.

In addition, given the unique current context of business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, 4 percent adopted a cat, and a disproportionately high 4 percent adopted other types of pets, especially pet reptiles and small mammals, officials added.

Pet adoption has been notable high for “other” types of pets partly because of a multiple-pet-ownership trend, according to officials.

“There’s no under-appreciation of dogs or cats afoot: among recent pet adopters, 90 percent have a pet dog, compared with 75 percent of pet owners overall, and 70 percent have a cat, compared with 56 percent of pet owners overall,” officials said. “But other types of pets have garnered more share of the limelight as pet-loving households added to their menageries.”

Other reasons include having kids at home due to school closures and the disruption of public sports, recreation and entertainment events, even play dates, officials noted. While 8 percent of pet owners overall have adopted a pet because of the pandemic, that rate notches up to 12 percent among those with children under age 18 at home, officials said.

“Because pet ownership is a discretionary expense, multiple-pet households skew higher-income, adding fuel to the fire for the product and service premiumization trends that have long driven the U.S. pet market, and drawn the attention of capital investors,” officials said. “Moreover, COVID-19 impacts have amplified the already inordinate contribution of e-commerce to the pet market’s fortunes, given the online tilt to premium product selections and less-discounted pricing, compared with brick-and-mortar pet category retailers overall.”

While there is no certainty about how long the pandemic will last, “pets as family” has “given the U.S. pet industry a powerful and enduring boost,” officials said. “And with Americans now facing uncertainty on an unprecedented scale and spending more time at home, the best bet is that ‘pets as family’ will gain additional momentum during this period of coronavirus pandemic and beyond.”

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