Raining cats and dogs: Pet industry at historic spending levels

Do you spend a lot on your pet? You’re helping fuel a growing industry.

by bret.silverberg, published 04/11/2014
cat U.S. pet owners spent a record $55.7 billion on the pet industry in 2013, and spending is projected to increase to $58.5 billion in 2014, according to the recently published 2013-14 American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owners Survey. The survey noted that 68 percent of U.S. households own at least one pet, which translates to about 82.5 million homes. The first survey of this kind, published in 1988, showed that 56 percent of U.S. households owned a pet. Pet owners spent $21.6 billion on pet food in 2013.  That’s about $7.2 billion more than they spent on vet care and $8.4 million more than they spent on supplies and medicine, according to the American Pet Products Association. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that Americans spend more on their furry family members each year than they do on alcohol or men’s clothing, and despite the recession, pet spending has held steady. People have always spent more on food than any other pet spending category and pet food trends follow human food and diet trends. That means if you are on a health kick, chances are your pet is too. And if humans find a product that works for them, they will look for and demand the same for their pets, said industry spokesman Bob Vetere. More spending has translated to more jobs in the pet care industry, which excludes veterinary services and doesn’t necessarily mean jobs only for people skilled with animals. Pet industry customer service representative hiring over the last four months is up 347 percent as compared to the same period spanning late November 2012 to late March 2013. Stock and sales floor clerk hiring in the last four months is up 292 percent as compared to the same period 12 months ago. New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Braselton, Ga., have seen solid job gains in this industry during this time as well. The pet and pet supply store industry has enjoyed good growth also, with big gains made within customer service and stock clerks/sales floor employees during the past four months. There remains a high volume of jobs for nonfarm animal caretakers, first-line supervisors of retail sales workers and retail salespersons in both the pet care and pet store industries. A more recent growth in spending relates to health insurance for pets and animal ID tags. Caring for a pet’s health is a growing force within the industry: between weight management foods, energy treats, organic products and various all-natural offerings as well as pet insurance and pet pharmaceuticals; there is no sign of a slowdown in spending for Fido. A 2011 Harris Interactive poll found that 91 of percent of U.S. pet owners consider their pets to be family members, and 81 percent say pets are equal members of the family. Plus, 58 percent of pet owners think of their animals as their children and refer to themselves as their pets’ “mommy” or “daddy.” “Though the pet industry has always been an economic outlier, it’s always good to see an industry on the rise,” says Jeff Quinn, vice president, Global Insights at Monster. “It is no surprise that we open up our hearts and our wallets to ensure the whole family is as healthy as can be.” 
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