As COVID-19 affects 2020 plans left and right, one group is finding more connection than ever: pets!
According to The Washington Post, shelters, nonprofit rescues, private breeders, and pet stores have all reported increased consumer demand, including some breeders with waiting lists well into 2021. For pet retailers, this rapid trend has impacted pet supply, sales, and prices in unprecedented ways.
Why is pet demand increasing?
There is more to the rising demand than simply the allure of a cute golden lab puppy with a bow. The answer to why demand is increasing specifically during COVID-19 may have more to do with the challenges and opportunities that quarantining with your family presents.
Puppies for example, have a ton of energy. They require training and feeding and play time and walks. This can take up hours of your day. But the reality is, more time at home can ease the difficulty of raising a puppy. More time to work on the foundational training skills that are so important early in a puppy’s life. Plus, kids that are home from school can also get involved.
Susanna Palos, a mother who is working at home during the pandemic, is feeling the same way as a lot of cooped-up Americans. “I want the companionship,” she says. “Since we are home a lot more you have a furry friend to keep you company. It can get lonely being home alone and I know having a pet can make all the difference.”
For parents specifically, a new dog or cat could be a welcome companion for their newly house-bound children, or the opposite – a cute distraction from parenting 24/7.
When asked if being at home during the coronavirus pandemic had an influence on her decision to get a pet now, Susanna reinforced what retailers have been noticing for months. “Yes, it has made me want a dog even more.” Susanna is in the later wave of pet adopters, but she has inevitably seen the impact that increasing pet adoptions has had on the industry already.
Impact of increased demand
The biggest repercussion of increased demand has been reduced supply. Much of this is a good thing for pet retailers and other organizations out there who are dedicated to finding homes for their animals.
WTOP News reported on the boom that New York-based non-profit, Foster Dogs Inc., has experienced during the pandemic. “Last year at this time, [Foster Dogs Inc.] had applications from about 140 people per month. That has risen to about 3,000.”
Of course, not everyone is experiencing an increase in inquiries of over 2000%, but Foster Dogs Inc. is not alone in seeing this boom in demand.
In the early days of this boom the increased demand was great for business, as well as for cats and dogs across the country looking for a home. In a normal economy perhaps the supply of animals to shelters could replace the pets getting adopted today. However, that doesn’t seem to be happening.
NPR reports that COVID-19 has influenced the parts of the pet supply chain that fill shelters every year:
“Matthew Bershadker care of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals explains that, in ordinary times, there is a net Southern states like Texas, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida have way more dogs than they know what to do with. So shelters and humane societies have developed a network of animal transports – sending vans filled with dogs to high-demand areas in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest.”
Matthew goes on to say 45,000 animals are transported through this channel every year.
With the pandemic putting economic and regulatory stress on this typical pet migration, the supply of new animals to certain shelters cannot keep up.
Despite the low supply, some experts are predicting that there could be a surge of pets back into shelters once COVID-19 restrictions are raised due to this backlog in the supply chain, as well as economic realities forcing pet owners to give up their pets.
For consumers like Susanna, it can be a lot harder to find pets to adopt at their local shelter, which could mean longer searches, or purchasing from a breeder or pet store at increased prices.
Be the pet store we need!
Basic economic principles tell us that this incongruence between supply and demand is an opportunity for pet suppliers.
Some pet retailers have reported increases in price as the supply remains slow to fit the demand.
Pet retailers are fulfilling an important role in this unprecedented time, and it is still a great time to bring home a new pet. Pet retailers can make sure to help new pet owners by giving customers payment options that consider current economic hardships.
As pet prices increase, a low monthly payment option could be very helpful to consumers. Financing options like LendingUSA can help spread the cost of a new pet out over months, allowing consumers to hold onto valuable savings, while also bringing home a new companion.