Puppy Love

Puppy Love

Naomi Sleeper
Director of Business Development
Imperial Distributors



Roses are red. Violets are blue. This Valentine’s Day, remember the pets, too!

Significant others may not be the only special friends to celebrate this month. The Huffington Post article “5 Ways to Spend Valentine’s Day with Your Pets” designates February as a perfect month to show “the love for a beloved pet.”

Living next to a dog park, I am reminded daily of how much people love their pets. Other reminders: the prominence of pet pics on texts, social media posts and holiday cards; the 138 million Google results for “dog vacation” (“Woofstock,” anyone?); the one million canines listed as primary beneficiaries in people’s wills. Bottom line, people adore their pets. They are part of the family, and their spending reflects this.

Americans spend over $63 billion annually on their pets; by 2019, sales are projected to reach $92 billion. A study conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) showed that 65% of households own at least one pet. Most popular among empty-nesters, millennials, single professionals, and couples delaying parenthood, the number of pets in the U.S. (312 million) rivals the country’s population of people.

The pet industry is made up of the products and services that help keep these pets healthy and happy. While supermarkets face competition from pet-specific retailers (like PetSmart and PetCo), mass merchants (like Wal Mart and Target), and increased market share from internet retailers, supermarket continue to prosper in the pet category.

All animals need to eat, and most pet owners shop for their furry and feathered friends’ food in supermarkets. Sales of pet food reached approximately $23 billion in 2015, with over $7 billion spent in supermarkets. A study by Nielsen showed that 73% of households shop the pet aisle.

Pet spending extends far beyond food. Toys, treats, grooming aids, nutritional supplements and accessories all contribute to pet-related expenditures. In 2015, sales of pet supplies reached over $14 billion. In supermarkets, this category ranks in the top five General Merchandise departments, ahead of batteries, foil, stationery and kitchen tool and gadgets.

The continuous introduction of new items adds a lift to the pet supply category in supermarkets. Today’s focus on natural, organic and “Made in USA” pet products—including catnip, chews, treats, training pads, grooming products and novelty toys—contribute to incremental pet sales. Increased emphasis on wellness has also driven the growth of pet remedies and supplements to accommodate a wide range of pets’ health and nutritional needs. According to Packaged Facts’ U.S. Pet Market Outlook, seventy percent of pet owners say they are willing to spend more money to ensure their pet’s health and happiness.

The future of the pet category in supermarkets represents a balloon of growth opportunity. With proper merchandising, advertising and promotions, supermarkets can become the destination for pet-owners and show their love for pets this Valentine’s Day and every day.