Petco has opened its 100th in-store veterinary hospital, this one located in Encinitas, California.
According to the retailer, the hospital opening serves as a significant milestone on Petco's rapid veterinary expansion journey, given the increased need for accessible and affordable veterinary care.
“Petco has doubled down on our full-service veterinary care expansion plans over the past year, and we're thrilled to be opening our 100th in-store veterinary hospital in Encinitas – a location that neighbors our corporate offices in San Diego,” said Mike Nuzzo, Petco’s CFO and COO. “We're especially proud to continue expansion during this time, as vet care is in higher demand than ever. The pandemic has caused a spike in adoption and fostering rates, and pet ownership is projected to increase by roughly 4% this year.”
Nearly 70% of U.S. households own at least one pet, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). Spending on pet veterinarian care and products will reach an estimated $30.2 billion in the United States in 2020, the Stamford, Connecticut-based group said, up about 3% from 2019. Overall U.S. consumer spending on pet products — including food, toys, medication, insurance, and other supplies and services — will reach $99 billion this year, up about 3.4% from the previous year. Those numbers promise to grow further as pet ownership rates among young consumers — that is, Gen Z and Millennials — becomes larger.
“Millennials may be the largest generation segment of pet owners in general, but they also account for more than half of reptile, small-animal and saltwater fish owners,” said APPA President and CEO Robert Vetere. “This is a very passionate, active and connected group, and it’s been very exciting to see the ways in which our industry is working to meet the demands of this powerful demographic.”
Such trends, of course, are proving favorable for retailers such as Petco.
The Encinitas in-store hospital opening involves a partnership with Austin, Texas-based Thrive Affordable Vet Care, with which Petco established a relationship with in 2017 as a priority regional veterinary partner. Additional regional veterinary partners contributing to veterinary growth plans include Global Veterinary Partners (GVP), VetnCare and Vetco Total Care. Petco said that its regional full-service vet partnerships complement the company's suite of health-and-wellness services and experiences for pets and pet parents.
Petco said that it has more than doubled its count of full-service in-store vet hospitals in the past year. The retailer’s current pet health care ecosystem includes access to preventive care, vaccination clinics, full-service hospitals, telehealth, pharmacy services, pet insurance and membership programs. Building upon veterinary hospital growth over the past year, Petco expects to increase momentum through the end of fiscal year 2020.
“We remain committed to driving positive change in the overall health and wellness of pets, and the growth of in-store veterinary hospitals at Petco helps us uphold this commitment," said Dr. Whitney Miller, director of veterinary medicine at Petco. "Our ultimate goal with rapid veterinary expansion is to provide more opportunities for pet parents to establish and maintain a lifelong relationship with their veterinarian. Continuously expanding our network and setting new growth goals keeps us on track to make this possible for pets and pet parents on a broad scale.”
The growth of pet health care options in retail stores comes as other merchants expand their own health care offerings for humans. In September, for example, Walmart shed more light on its health care growth. In addition to the six Walmart Health Centers currently operating in Georgia and Arkansas, the company plans to open seven more locations in Georgia by the close of the fiscal year, two in the Chicago area this autumn, and seven locations in the Jacksonville, Florida, area in 2021, with at least one opening early next year.
Meanwhile, pet retail in general continues to gain steam during this year of the pandemic — especially via e-commerce. Take Dania Beach, Florida-based Chewy as one recent example. The online pet product retailer posted a 47% year-over-year gain in revenue in the second quarter of 2020 — and said it will use an expanding fulfillment network and prescription offerings to achieve further growth as the holidays approach, according to company executives.