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    Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry, shares her insights and opinions on all things petfood, addressing market trends as well as news and developments in pet nutrition, food safety and other hot topics for the industry.

    US pet retailers report sales growth, optimism

    Jul 2, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    US businesses selling petfood and other pet products experienced 6.6% growth in sales from 2011 to 2013, according to Pet Product News International’s 2014 State of the Industry Study, and 65% of the business owners surveyed expect further increases this year. The study, last conducted in 2012, included nearly 200 respondents who said they own a pet-related business (independent, chain or franchise pet store, boutique or gift shop, grooming service) that sells pet supplies.


    While the study report, published in the July issue of Pet Product News International, does not include any data specific to petfood, the findings do indicate positive signs for our industry and offer insight into the US pet retail scene.


    For example, study respondents said that in 2013, natural products accounted for a double-digit percentage of every single pet product category they sold, with cat products topping the list at 40% and dog products, 38%. (Natural products accounted for 32% of the grooming category, 28% of bird, 25% of small mammal products, 19% of herps and 17% of aquarium/pond fish products.) For these businesses, sales of natural pet products rose 5% from 2011 to 2013.


    Not surprisingly, dog products overall were the biggest contributor to most pet businesses’ sales: 70% of the owners said they derived some percentage of their 2013 sales from this category, and on average, pet businesses selling dogs and dog products had 15% of their sales come from this category (the same percentage as in 2011).


    The report didn’t include information on how many of the pet businesses in the survey derived sales from cat products. In pet stores catering to both dog and cat owners, the dog category accounted for almost 29% of sales in 2013, while just over 8% of sales came from cats and cat products.


    As for other species:

    • 33% of the businesses reported 2013 sales in the bird and bird products category, with annual sales in the category averaging nearly 5%;
    • About the same percentage said they sell aquarium or pond fish and related products, and such products accounted for an average of 12% of annual sales;
    • 31% of the businesses had sales in 2013 for small mammal and related products, though those sales averaged only 3% of total business;
    • About 25% reported sales in the herp category, also about 3% of annual sales on average.


    While most of the pet businesses surveyed have physical stores (brick-and-mortar, 52%; strip mall, 31%; and mall, 2%), 12% reported having home-based businesses and 8%, “other.” Presumably, these last two categories include online businesses, though the report did not specify that. It did say that while 64% of the businesses have websites, 25% do not – a rather astonishing number in this day and age.


    These businesses without websites are missing out on sales; the report said that in 2013, pet businesses enjoyed an average of US$366 in daily sales from online purchases and about 37 visitors a day (up from only 17 in 2011). About 23% of the website visitors average online purchases of US$43.


    Finally, the use of social media to promote pet businesses has grown significantly between 2011 and 2013; only 14% of the businesses surveyed said they are not engaged in any type of social media, down from 26% in 2011. Facebook is the overwhelming favorite, used by 67% of the businesses. After that, it’s a mix of Foursquare/Yelp/other (15%), Twitter (12%), Groupon/Daily Deal/other coupon media (6%), Pinterest (6%) and other (15%).

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