State of the pet industry: Looking good

The US pet industry continued its strong recovery from the pandemic, surging 14% overall to $123 billion in 2021. Even non-medical services such as grooming and boarding—the only pet industry sector to lose ground in 2020—rebounding almost fully in 2021.

That’s according to research from Packaged Facts and their just-released U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2022-2023.

According to the report, a number of factors contributed to the rebound in spending, including:

  • Heightened focus on pet health and wellness among pet owners due to their closer contact with their pets
  • Increased reliance on all things digital including online shopping
  • The adaptability of consumers, marketers, retailers, and service providers to increased purchasing options due to technology

David Sprinkle, publisher and research director at Packaged Facts, talked about these and other topics in a recent presentation on repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on the pet industry called “After the Reset: Pet Market Outlook & Trends.”

Sprinkle said that the pandemic reset the pet-product market across the board.

“The way consumers spend has been transformed,” he said. Pet product makers aren’t simply competing within a product category with a similar product on a shelf, “[They’re] competing with products and services and with hybrids of products and services that are really new and innovative.”

Packaged Facts coined the word “omnimarket” to describe this shopping experience and say it has redefined the way pet owners search for, find, and purchase pet products, and transcends retail channels and product categories. He noted that bigger players in the industry, such as Mars Petcare, have been doing this for a long time, and more companies are following their example.

Sprinkle said that relatively new services—including curbside pickup, auto-ship subscription services, and direct-to-consumer purchases are “completely changing the pet-spending landscape.” He added that this reflects broader spending trends for overall consumer purchasing in the United States.

Most respondents (94%) said their pet product shopping was done either in-store or online through the internet or their smartphone.

  • 81% reported shopping in-store or using curbside pickup options
  • 34% said they shopped online and did not use at-store pickup options
  • 22% said they shopped online and not in-store

Sprinkle said that it’s also important to note that many pet owners don’t limit themselves to one purchasing method, but rather employ a combination of in-store and online shopping, as well as curbside pickup options.

Sprinkle also said that the COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged dog and cat owners to pay more attention to their pets’ health and wellness, including anxiety and stress levels, immune system health, and even making changes to the products they currently buy to support pet health and wellness.

Packaged Facts predicts the overall retail pet product sector will reach $94.6 billion in sales by 2025, with e-commerce making up 53% of sales in the total market by that time.

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