Americans are splurging on their pets, presenting a growth opportunity for retailers. Spending by pet owners on food and supplies, medicine, trips to the vet, grooming and the like grew 5.3 percent from the year before, to $50.96 billion, according to the American Pet Products Association. New pet products and a rise in the number of pet-shop entrepreneurs helped drive the activity, the trade group says. Pet services, such as grooming, boarding and day care, accounted for the largest increase, up 7.9 percent over the year before, to $3.8 billion.
The association is projecting that this category will see a larger increase than the others this year, up perhaps 8.4 percent, representing some $4.1 billion. Supplies and over-the-counter medications grew significantly too last year, at some $11.7 billion, up 7.6 percent from the previous year. Pet sales and adoptions are flat, though, says Bob Vetere, president of the association. Some 62 percent of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to about 73 million homes. That percentage has remained essentially unchanged since 2008 because of the recession, Vetere says. “As the total pet population continues to grow, despite a slower pace, we still see the overall industry expanding year after year,” he said in a prepared statement. “As pet owners continue to treat pets like members of the family, we see positive growth and a response to consumer demand for more products and services which we expect to see through 2012.” The association is projecting an increase in pet spending of 3.8 percent this year, to about $53 billion.