Sales down YOY after pandemic’s pet food retail spike

In April 2020, pet food sales decreased compared to the same month in 2018 and 2019.

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(Kira_Yan |
(Kira_Yan |

Dog, cat and other pet food sales dropped rapidly following the spike in pet food sales that accompanied COVID-19 pandemic preparations. In April 2020, pet food sales decreased compared to the same month in 2018 and 2019. Sean Simpson, associate client director at Nielsen Global Connect, shared that data along with other pet food market information and analysis in a Petfood Industry webinar.

Pet food sales growth and decline during pandemic

U.S. pet food sales were slightly higher than in 2019 during the last two weeks of February 2020 including both mass market and pet specialty retailers. Year-over-year growth was even a bit lower at 2.7% in the final week of February, according to Nielsen data, whereas 2019 sales had increased 4.8% compared to 2018. Then in the first week of March sales began to increase dramatically, hitting approximately US$650 million by the second week. Compared to 2019, U.S. pet food sales grew 40.8% that week. The next week saw yet more dramatic increases with year-over-year growth at 51.6% compared to 3.1% in 2019. That third week of March was also the peak of the pandemic sales spike, hitting nearly US$700 million.

However, after stocking up, pet owners no longer followed usual purchasing routines. Along with this, public health safety measures curtailed many pet owners ability to shop at brick-and-mortar retailers. By the final week in March, pet food retail sales had fallen from their peak and more with a year-over-year decline of 7.6%. The next three weeks saw larger declines. The first three weeks in April all experienced year-over-year declines of at least 14%. In the last week of April, pet food sales were still down 7.3% compared to 2019.

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