ROCKVILLE, MD — The novel coronavirus pandemic is impacting industries and economies across the globe and will undoubtedly continue to do so as the situation develops. Segments of pet industry, which is largely considered “recession-proof,” are expected to experience varied repercussions, according to Packaged Facts in its latest report, US Pet Market Outlook 2020-2021.

Overall, retail sales of pet products and services are expected to decline 17% this year, a stark contrast to the 5% growth previously predicted by the market research firm. This means that between 2019 and 2020, sales will have dropped from $95 billion to an estimated $78.5 billion.

Pet food, which is the largest segment of the pet industry in terms of revenue, is not expected to be hit as hard as other segments, with Packaged Facts projecting 4% growth from 2019 sales, compared to its previous prediction of 6% growth over the year.

The market research firm based some expectations on pet spending data from the Great Recession of 2008-2009, in which pet food and treat sales suffered from consumers trading more premium products for value and store brands at lower price points due to financial hardships.

During the Great Recession, a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics concluded household pet spending was down 5% in 2009 and declined another 12% in 2010.

Packaged Facts is predicting double-digit sales declines for all other areas of the pet industry. Non-medical pet services, such as boarding facilities, are expected to see the sharpest decline in sales at 47%, and sales for the veterinary and non-food pet product sectors are expected to fall as the pandemic runs its course.

Packaged Facts suggested the onset of veterinary tele-medicine could help boost sales in the veterinary space. The report also pointed to established e-commerce platforms and mass market locations as a potential source of hope for some pet brands to continue driving sales.

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