Nov 8, 2019
Survey provides useful pet industry data for independent retailers

The 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey revealed that overall pet ownership has increased over the past few decades. Approximately 68% of all households that participated in the survey own pets. Dogs take the top slot, as 48% surveyed own dogs, 38% own cats, and rounding out third place are owners of freshwater fish at 18%.

The 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners data indicated some generational differences among those polled. About 35% of Gen Y own pets, where Gen X represented about 27% of pet owners, and the baby boomers came in at about 32% of overall pet owners. The overall results indicated that pet ownership numbers remain stable and even showed an increase in the number of dog and cat owners since the last survey was conducted.

Gen Y had some interesting statistical results. According to the data, about 50% of this younger generation own small animals and 53% own reptiles. But, the top type of pet owned by this group was saltwater fish, coming in at 62%. Dogs and cats were still ranked high, but not at the top.

Gen X population indicated numbers fairly consistent across the types of pets owned — 26% owned dogs and 27% owned cats. Other popular types of pets with this crowd were birds, small animals and freshwater fish.

One category surveyed may yield helpful information to retailers who sell gifts for pets and/or pet owners. The data indicated that pet parents do purchase gifts for their pets, whether it be a dog, cat, horse, fish, small animal or other type of pet. About 78% of dog owners purchase gifts for their canines and 67% of cat parents purchase gifts as well. Small animal owners also indicated a high probability of purchasing gifts: 74%. The results of the APPA data also dive into the gift-purchasing habits and the type of occasion owners will purchase gifts for their pets, such as birthday, holiday and even vacation spending categories.

The 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners data found that 70% of pet owners shop in both independent and chain stores over a 12-month period. Online purchase habits are still an interesting consideration, as the data indicated that half of those surveyed do purchase food, treats, medicines and supplies through online retailers.

Another key takeaway for independent retailers is how pet owners use social media. The use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. has increased. Yet, pet product companies’ websites are still the go-to source of individuals surveyed to obtain the information about new products. The results also noted that the top method owners discover new products is in an actual store; TV ads are the second most used source of product awareness; and the Internet was ranked third.

Lastly, the results indicated an increased trend in the humanization of pets. This humanization is an influence and may play a role in driving the pet industry and provides retailers an opportunity to sell consumers merchandise such as gifts, treats, vitamins and supplements. This is especially true for the Gen Y population, as the results indicated this population tends to humanize pets more than the other generations.

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