Pet parents continued to set new spending records in 2019, with the industry’s annual sales up 5.7% to $95.7 billion, according to new data from the American Pet Products Association (APPA). In 2020, sales are forecast to increase 3.5%, putting annual sales at roughly $99 billion.
Steve King, CEO of APPA, said the overall sales figures are higher than those in previously reported industry expenditures reports, which is a result of APPA's efforts to refine and improve its research methodology. In some cases, categories have been revised to include services or products that were previously excluded as reliable data was difficult to obtain. Current figures are based on a review analysis of the most recent data from the top three research firms studying the pet industry–Nielsen, Euromonitor and Packaged Facts–combined with insight from industry experts and leading pet retailers, confirming underlying data.
Pet food and treats is by far the largest spending category, with 2019 sales of $36.9 billion. Dog and cat food are the dominant category components, with the growing popularity of pet food mixers and toppers contributing to increased sales. The increase in subscription pet food delivery programs also added to the success of this category. The pet food and treats category is also expected to see another 4% increase in sales in 2020.
"Consumers are more educated than ever about the ingredients that go into their pets' food, which means they're willing to pay more for quality products," said King. "As the demand for natural, minimally-processed ingredients continues, we expect to see steady growth in this category."
Vet care and product sales came in at $29.3 billion, a significant jump from previously reported spending figures. In addition to routine veterinary care, surgical procedures and sales of pharmaceuticals and other products through veterinary clinics are now included. With clinics appearing in major retailers' stores and veterinary telemedicine platforms on the rise, veterinary services are becoming more accessible.
"Scientific research from the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) shows that when you invest in your pets' health, you're investing in your own health," said King. "Improved physical health and reduced feelings of loneliness and social isolation are just a few of the health benefits you're likely to experience by owning a pet."
Following vet care and product sales, supplies, live animals and OTC Medicine sold at retail accounted for $19.2 billion in 2019.
New to APPA's pet spending data, this category also includes estimated retail sales of fish, reptiles, small animals and birds, which had previously been broken out as a separate category. Live animal sales figures are difficult to come by and are a relatively small contributor to overall sales, according to APPA. Dog, cat and horse sales are purposely excluded as these animals are typically obtained outside of the retail pet channel.
The “other services” category contributed an impressive $10.3 billion to industry sales last year and received the second highest year-over-year growth (6%), just behind food and treats. Services include boarding, grooming, insurance, training, pet sitting and walking and all services outside of veterinary care. In an effort to combat sales erosion from online retailers, brick and mortar stores are adding a wide variety of services that fall under this category, maximizing convenience for pet owners.
"Aside from echoing the current state of the pet industry, APPA's latest industry figures remind us of just how much Americans love their pets," said King. "By understanding consumer behavior, we're not only fostering the success of the pet industry for generations to come, we're notably improving the lives of pets and the humans who love and care for them."