ROCKVILLE, MD. — Some segments of the US pet industry may be rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic faster than expected, according to a new op-ed by market research firm Packaged Facts. The piece is based on information found in its latest “U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2020-2021: The COVID-19 Impact.”

The firm said the economic situation caused by the pandemic “may continue to be felt for years after the immediate medical crisis is past.” Although pet food, namely dog and cat food, is notoriously “recession-resistant,” other non-food products have seen an uptick in sales due to two main trends.

The first is a continued increase in pet adoptions across the nation, causing sales growth for durable pet accessory items, such as habitats, carriers, bedding and toys. Packaged Facts estimated this also caused a surge in “novelty and pampering purchases” as owners welcomed new pets into their lives.

Packaged Facts noted the surge in dog adoption rates runs parallel to pet ownership growth after the Great Recession in 2007. Dog ownership rose from 34.9% in 2007 to 38.1% in 2011 during that period.

"This pattern has repeated itself and then some, with pet appeal unleashed in full force,” explained David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts.

In the three months following the initial COVID-19 outbreak in March, 4% of adults in the United States adopted a dog, 4% adopted a cat and 4% adopted another type of companion animal, particularly reptiles and small mammals. Packaged Facts described the number of reptile, small mammal and other pet adoptions to be “disproportionately high.”

The second reason for increased pet supply sales is explained by Packaged Facts as a trend toward do-it-yourself products, as regular grooming and veterinary services have been interrupted by stay-at-home orders and business restrictions posed by the pandemic.

As a result of this surge in non-discretionary pet product sales, the market research firm is projecting pet product sales to grow 8% to $59 billion by the end of 2020 from $55 billion in 2019.

Packaged Facts noted that multi-pet ownership among higher-income households could help to augment sales of premium pet products during this period as well. The growth of e-commerce has also been amplified by the pandemic as pet owners turn to online platforms to get the products they need.

Pet services such as grooming, veterinary care and boarding, are the hardest hit segments within the US pet industry, Packaged Facts added.

In closing, the market research firm suggested that although the long-term ramifications of COVID-19 are unknown, the resilience of the US pet industry holds strong as humanization, premiumization and increased time at home adds momentum to this growing market.

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