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Pd0805 Pets


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Our relationship with pets has changed. This creates opportunities for retailers and for downtowns to position themselves as pet-friendly destinations.

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Pd0805 Pets

  1. 1. Pet Friendly? Why Catering to Pets Makes Cents By Michael Stumpf, May 2008 T here are an estimated 71 million pets living The American Pet Products Manufacturing Asso- in nearly two-thirds of all households in the ciation estimates that consumers spent $41.2 bil- United States. While this is substantially lion on their pets in 2007. Spending in 2008 is ex- more than in the past, in both the number of pets pected to top $43 billion. About $10 billion of this overall and the percentage of homes that shelter will be spent on pet supplies. Food purchases are them, the more important story here is in our rela- the biggest expenditure ($16 billion) and just like tionship with our pets. Pets are no longer viewed in the human market, natural and organic pet food as simply an animal. They have become a member is one of the fastest-growing segments, especially of the family. That change has had a powerful im- after pet food contamination scares in 2007. pact on how we relate to our pets, what we do This certainly presents an opportunity for retail- with them, and how we spend to support them. ers. While the market is dominated by large com- Businesses and communities that realize this have panies like Petco and PetSmart, there are count- a new opportunity to use this information to in- less smaller chains, independent retailers, and crease their bottom line. service providers who have enjoyed the trend. According to a recent survey by the American Many of these businesses are found in traditional Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), 94 percent downtown and neighborhood business districts. of people believe their pet has human-like person- Other retailers have cashed in by carrying a selec- ality traits (an a majority of people would prefer to tion of items catering to pet owners. Grocery be stranded on a deserted island with their pet in- stores are one example. Food accounts for the stead of their spouse!). As this emotional bond largest share of pet purchases, and AC Neilsen re- with our pets has grown we have projected our search has shown that parents of pets typically own desires and aspirations onto them, reflected spend 16 to 27 percent more at the grocery store in our spending on pet foods and other products, than other customers. Pet products can be found veterinary care, and grooming. Dog owners, for in stores as diverse as Walgreen’s, Home Depot, instance, increased their spending by 38 percent and Old Navy. between 1997 and 2002. Place Dynamics Michael Stumpf is a consultant in community planning, economic development, and 1 market analysis, based in New Berlin, Wisconsin.
  2. 2. While a majority of pet product retailers allow animals in their stores, in states like Colorado it is not uncommon to see dogs accompanying their humans into almost any kind of store. Consider Fashion Island, a 1.2 million square foot mall in Newport Beach, California, where pets are even welcome in stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Neiman-Marcus. A simple accommodation like this can go a long way toward enhancing the cus- tomer’s experience and generating return traffic. Shopping areas can help to create a more pet- friendly environment, whether for tourists or the nearby resident who may want the company of their pet while shopping. Pet-friendly attitudes may be more significant in mixed-use districts with housing, offices and other businesses. In ad- dition to needing to provide facilities for resident Is it a surprise that pet products sell well in tour- pets, about one in four people bring their pet to ist-oriented destinations and specialty districts? work at least once per week and also need places These stores, including pet bakeries and other pet to walk their pets. product retailers (but also stores that simply carry a selection of pet products in addition to their Features like grassy areas for playing, shaded typical merchandise) appeal to a desire to pamper places for pets to rest, pet-accessible drinking our pets. At the same time we will pick up me- fountains, and waste disposal stations all signal mentos for ourselves, we’ll pick up something to that a commercial area welcomes pets. Cabela’s, take back to our four-legged kids to let them know for instance, provides kennels and exercise areas we were thinking of them. at some of its store locations. Even if dogs are not allowed in the store, their guardians can feel good Beyond simply buying souvenirs to take home to knowing that they are not trapped in a hot car. As- our pets, two-thirds of the respondents to the sured of their pet’s safety, they are likely to spend AAHA survey indicated that they traveled with more time shopping. their pet. A total of 14 percent of all trips in the United States are made with pets. With record retail construction Business districts and tourist desti- in recent years, followed by nations might do well to give some the current economic slump, thought to how they can capture retail competition is getting these travelers’ business. more fierce. Stores need to identify new sales opportuni- Hotels are an obvious candidate to ties while center owners or reach out to travelers with pets. business districts need to take Chains like Comfort Inn and Holi- measures to create a competi- day Inn typically allow travelers to tive advantage. Embracing and bring dogs and cats, and a growing responding to lifestyle trends number of hotels are taking it a such as our love of pets is one step further, providing fenced exer- way that this can be accom- cise areas and other amenities in plished. O attempt to win customer loyalty. (For those who leave their pets be- hind, there are a growing number © 2008 Place Dynamics of pet hotels and spas.) Place Dynamics 2