Photo: Pezibear, Pixabay
A disproportionately high 4 per cent of US adults adopted pet reptiles and small mammals in the past few months. Photo: Pezibear, Pixabay
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US pet industry

The impact of Covid-19 in the US

The market survey company Packaged Facts describes how the four sectors of the US pet industry - pet food, non-food pet supplies, veterinary services, and non-medical pet services - have been challenged by the coronavirus pandemic.
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Due to regulatory restrictions and social distancing, pet services rather than pet products are bearing the brunt of the blow in the coronavirus crisis, reports Packaged Facts in the recently updated market research study US 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 the pet market's reputation for being recession-resistant, if not recession-proof, through the current crisis. 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 robust sales of pet products despite the current economic chaos, according to Packaged Facts' just-released update of its annual US Pet Market Outlook report. First, an expected uptick in pet adoption swelled into a surge of pet acquisition, generating a sales boom for higher-ticket pet durables such as habitats, carriers and bedding along with novelty and pampering purchases such as pet toys and accessories. Second, sales have spiked for at-home, do-it-yourself dog and cat grooming and oral care products, driven by the marooned customers of veterinary clinics or professional salons offering these services. With these developments, Packaged Facts expects pet product sales to notch up 8 per cent from 55 bn dollars in 2019 to nearly 59 bn dollars in 2020.
A boost to pet adoption was anticipated because ownership rates for dogs (though not cats or other types of pets) went up in the wake of the 2008 recession, rising from 34.9 per cent of US households in 2007 to 38.1 per cent by 2011. "This pattern has repeated itself and then some," explains Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle, "with pet appeal unleashed in full force." Among US adults, 5 per cent adopted a dog in the three-month period generally corresponding to the initial Covid-19 impact - a windfall in a market where dogs account for two-thirds of product and service sales. In addition, given the unique context of business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, 4 per cent adopted a cat, and a disproportionately high 4 per cent adopted other types of pets, especially reptiles and small mammals.

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