A Pet-Positive Outlook

A Pet-Positive Outlook

Naomi Sleeper
Vice President Continuous Improvement and Strategic Initiatives
Imperial Distributors


Focusing on silver linings during the pandemic can guide us toward a positive outlook for the future.  A smile-worthy outcome: more puppies and pet adoptions!  My neighborhood has become a puppy playland, delighting passers-by. And adoption of rescue and shelter pets is wonderful news for these animals in need.

With a surge in pet ownership—thanks to people’s increased time at home—growth in the pet industry has spiked. The Pet Market Outlook 2020-2021 by Packaged Facts reports that dog and cat ownership increased by 12-14% in the last year. Households are spending more on their pets than ever before. Year-over-year (YOY) US sales in pet food/treats and pet supplies increased by 7-9%, and are projected to continue to grow by about 4-5% each year through 2024.

Dependence on grocery stores as a one-stop-shop has translated to even higher growth of pet sales in the supermarket channel, compared to the overall market. In US grocery, growth in dog and cat supplies are particularly significant. This includes toys, rawhides, natural treats and grooming products. According to Hartz, dog and cat toys are both up over 20% YOY in US Food. Rawhides and natural dog treats have increased in YOY sales by 12% and 14%, respectively. With millennials’ higher prioritization of natural products, natural treats are gaining a larger piece of the pet treat/chew pie. Due to closure of grooming businesses during the pandemic, people have also purchased more products to groom pets at home. This has translated to a 31% YOY increase in grooming shampoo sales in the grocery channel, with continued growth projected over the next several years.

Unlike some categories that are projected to normalize to pre-Covid sales levels after the pandemic, increase in pet adoption means a long-term boost in the pet category—at least through the lifespan of these newly acquired furry family members. With robust assortments and dedicated space, grocery stores will capture the loyalty of happy pet parents.