Money & Business

Sign We Love Pets: We Spent $58 Billion on Them Last Year

By / Mar 11, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

A new report from the American Pet Products Association notes that many people are spending lavishly on one of the most important things in their lives: the animal that loves them unconditionally. The generation gap may be at play, the association suggests.

Here’s one thing that doesn’t bite if you work in the pet-supply industry: According to new statistics from the American Pet Products Association, the industry saw $58 billion in spending in 2014, a record high, and a jump of 4.2 percent from the year before. And if current projections keep up, 2015 could be even bigger.

“The pet industry continues to outpace most other retail segments, and for 2015 we are projecting to surpass the $60 billion mark, which demonstrates the strength and vitality of this industry,” APPA President and CEO Bob Vetere said in a news release.

So what’s driving the success? Part of it may be an increase in households that own pets. At last week’s Global Pet Expo, Vetere told the audience that 79.7 million households in the U.S. include pets—a jump of 50 percent over the past two decades. Even more impressive, 10 percent of pet owners are new, meaning that roughly 8 million households have taken on a pet within the past year. The numbers, from the 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey, highlight a generational change that could be very favorable to the pet-services industry.

In other words, the millennials love their dogs and cats—something that the rise of animated cat GIFs exemplifies.

“This is really exciting as the industry as a whole has been trying to engage Gen Y in pet ownership the way generations before them did,” Vetere said. “These numbers demonstrate huge potential for the industry to grow with up-and-coming, new pet owners.”

(On the flip side, boomers may be getting past the point of wanting to manage a pet. “We knew this was coming as the generation that started the humanization and pampering of pets is aging,” Vetere added.)

One weak spot for the industry is the purchase of live animals. That segment saw $2.1 billion in sales in 2014, down 3.6 percent from the year before.

The cause is unclear (perhaps Fido is living a little bit longer, or maybe regulatory issues with certain kinds of animals are dissuading potential owners?), but the association said it had been prepared for such a decline.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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