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America's love of pets offers opportunity for brick-and-mortar retail

Dog playing outside
Posted at 11:27 AM, May 27, 2022

People love their pets.

Research shows that nineteen percent of Americans got a new pet during the pandemic. Recent data indicates cities can leverage some of those dogs and cats to help boost local businesses.

"If you are looking for footfall for a retail area like a shopping mall or a central street in a town or city, a pet store is quite a good way to get it," said Jeremy King, CEO of the consumer research firm Attest.

The company's research shows that most people like to shop for their pets.

  • Only 13% of pet owners bought pet food online
  • 15% bought treats online
  • 18% bought equipment like toys, leashes, and cages online

Other pet owners preferred to shop at supermarkets, pet stores, or other in-person locations.

Pet owners "will spend lots of money, and they don't buy these products online," said King. "They're looking for an experienced, and they will probably include their pets in that experience."

King said most pet owners view it as a lifestyle, not a chore.

"There's just a huge love for the pet itself, and also the whole experience of owning a pet," King said. "So it's not a surprise that when people buy new toys for their pet, they go with their pet and make it an adventure."

It's a lifestyle trend that extends beyond the retail storefront and into the home.

  • 57% of pet owners let their furry friend sleep in the bed
  • 48% buy their pets presents during the holidays
  • 21% cook for their pets

"There are people who would be happy to eat their own cat food," King said. The meals these pet owners cook for their animals are "full of delicious and nutritious items. Sometimes it's better than the lunch or dinner they're eating for themselves."

The research also shows about one-third of pet owners try to bring their animals "wherever they can."

This attitude has led to some adjustments in the tourism industry.

The number of pet-friendly hotels has climbed over the past 20 years.

More than half of hotels will now allow you to bring a pet.