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Is the Pet Business Recession Proof?

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Question: Is the Pet Business Recession Proof?
As consumer spending on pet products and services continues to climb, it appears that the pet business is recession proof.

Here are some explanations for this unique phenomenon.
Answer: Is the Pet Business Really Recession Proof?

This is a common misconception, as the scenario is a bit more complex that it may seem.

While pet spending topped $48 billion in 2010, up from $45.5 billion in 2009, with estimates of $51 to $55 billion projected for 2011 (depending on various pet business reports), there are other factors that must be taken into consideration.

For one, less people have adopted pets in recent times. In fact, pet parents have surrendered their companion animals to shelters in record numbers due to job layoffs, home foreclosures and other unfortunate economic factors.

Conversely, those who do have pets are spending rather freely on items and services such as:

So, realistically, the pet business is not exactly “recession proof.” Rather, it can more accurately be defined as “recession resistant,” as an article in The New York Times stated.

Why the Pet Business Appears to Be Recession Proof

In speaking to a vast array of pet business professionals as well as pet parents, there are a number of reasons for the continued brisk spending on pet products and services.

For one, aging baby boomers comprise a large portion of the population. As these folks often have grown children who are out of the nest, pets increasingly have become their surrogate kids.

Furthermore, an increasing number of young adults are putting off marriage and having human kids, as this has become more socially acceptable. So they, too, regard their pets as their kids.

Then there are those people who have become frankly disillusioned with their fellow humans, due to the increased strife in the world. They will readily attest that pets are the only living beings that are capable of providing unconditional love and loyalty.

For these and a host of other reasons, many people now regard their pets as valued family members, and will spend money on them accordingly.

The Internet Helps the Pet Business to Remain Recession Proof

Thanks to the Internet, people are becoming more educated and, subsequently, sophisticated, about pet products and services.

The ‘net also provides pet business owners and operators greater opportunities and tools to promote their enterprises, such as:

These are just some of the reasons why the pet business appears to be recession proof.

My Personal Pet Business Observations

As someone who is also a pet parent (to Omar the cat), and a pet products and services consumer, I am in a prime position to observe and analyze consumer attitudes toward pet spending.

Just to give a couple of many examples, I spoke to a parent to two poodles (that were decked in designer duds, no less) when I attended a press conference to introduce the new pet-friendly lodging policy at the Showboat Atlantic City casino.

She informed me that she would buy the bargain brands of shampoo for herself, but didn’t think twice about coughing up $20-plus for a bottle of doggie shampoo.

Meanwhile, I recently was shopping for cat food at Cutter’s Mill natural pet store in Cherry Hill, N.J., when I witnessed an older couple shelling out a whopping $361 for dog food.

When another customer expressed astonishment at the amount, the husband joked that he and his wife were willing to live on Spam and ramen noodles so that their dogs could dine like kings.

I personally have cut corners when spending on myself, but will spare no expense when it comes to my cat.

Why? We humans love our pets. As a result, we will continue to spend big bucks on our critters, enabling the pet business to remain recession proof – or at least recession resistant – as long as we live and breath.

As such, savvy businesspeople who genuinely love pets can rest assured that the pet business will continue to grow unabated in the future.
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