Americans are estimated to spend over $62 billion on their pets this year, a 23% increase from just 5 years ago. The pet industry appears to be recession-proof with no sign of stopping, a fact that large-scale pet and pet accessory stores are happy to hear as we head towards the holiday season.
Surprisingly, the American Veterinary Medical Association showed that from 2007 to 2012 there was a slight decrease in the percent of households that own pets, though only by a couple of points. That’s not a huge change, so what is it that’s causing the pet industry to thrive the way it has?
The products available for pet owners have increased in both variety and quality, and at the same time ownership has shifted more dramatically toward family inclusion. Simply put, pets are being treated better by their owners’ investments, mainly in the accessories and food they choose, the health care they provide and their inclusion as furry-yet-official family members.
Pet accessories and toys are important for a pet’s physical and mental well-being. Though a cat may find utter joy in a laser pointer or a cardboard box — which costs next to nothing to find — there are still plenty of important accessories that pet owners are investing in. These include beds, crates, collars and toys.
But just as technology has expanded and altered how humans invest in their own accessories — such as cell phones and other portable devices — technology has also driven the pet accessory market. From interactive cameras that allow owners to play with their furry friends from work to hi-tech puzzle toys that help Fido learn, there are some truly innovative accessories that owners are going gaga over.
As it is with humans, proper nutrition for pets is crucial and it’s only natural to want the best for your furry friend’s tummy. People are more aware of what is in their own foods, and as such they’ve also been more interested in what they’re putting in the pets’ bowls. They want the good stuff, but — as it often is with human food — the good stuff can be costly.
There are now so many options available for pet owners to choose from, including non-GMO organic choices and “performance enhancing” blends specifically designed to target a pet’s age or medical needs. The rise in pet food expenditure is mostly driven by purchases of these higher-quality pet foods. 51% of pet food spending in the US is from households whose income exceeds $70,000.
To many the household pet is family, and many treat them with the same care as they do their human relatives. Losing a pet is often just as painful as losing another human member of the family. Over 87% of pet owners experience grief after losing a pet, 22% even experiencing that grief over a year later. It’s no wonder then that owners are so concerned with their pets’ health care.
Veterinary visits are often a yearly routine for pet owners. Certain immunizations and vaccinations are not only crucial for the pets’ well-being, but they’re also often required by law. But despite the regulations, owners are simply paying more for their pets’ health. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey shows a parallel rise in pet’s health spending to that of people’s.
Though pet ownership per household has barely moved on the charts, ownership among millennials has boomed. Part of this is in no small part to the fact that many millennials are either waiting longer to start their families or are deciding to not have children at all. But that doesn’t mean they’re a generation of loners. Pet ownership is ultimately a cheaper and less stressful option while still bringing warmth and companionship to the household.
That said, the “fur babies” are not forgotten during the holidays, even if they don’t know what day it is. Accessories and treats can be found under the Christmas tree, and you better believe someone on your block is dressing up Fido for Halloween. This year, about Americans spent about $350 million on Halloween costumes for pets, which is about $1 to every $3 spent on children’s costumes.
Here on Out
Though the year is not quite over, there’s no doubt that the pet industry will be in for a very successful fourth quarter. And as other trends such as millennial ownership and the increased quality of products available continue, there’s no doubt that the annual expenditure for pets in the US will also continue to grow.
So how do you invest in your furry friends’ happiness? Will you include your dog or cat when making your Christmas gift list? If so, they’ll definitely feel loved this holiday season!