Amidst the shortages in toilet paper and hand sanitizer last year, out of stocks at animal shelters were perhaps one of the more curious side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  But how different is this new breed of pet owners from previous cohorts?  In today’s Insight Flash, we dig into trends for new shopper adoption, demographics of those new shoppers, and whether the new cohort of pet owners is more or less attractive for the industry based on average spend.

Although the percentage of individuals newly buying pet products (a proxy for new pet owners) has been on the decline for much of the last two and a half years, April 2020 saw an uptick of about 1% in both the number of new shoppers for Pet Products/Services and  the number of shoppers spending on Veterinary services for the first time.

Note: % of individuals who made a purchase in the specified subindustry for the first time in our data history in the specified month

Versus 2019, 2020 pet owners were more likely to be younger, with the biggest growth in the percentage of pet owners in the 18-24 year old age bucket.  They were also more likely to rent their homes, living in units with three or more adults.  This implies a shift in pet ownership to young, single individuals living as roommates versus the traditional demographics of families with children and a house with a yard.

Pet Owner Demographics

Note: % of Individuals in each demographic bucket purchasing from each subindustry in given calendar year

As might be expected from their demographics, these new pet owners are not as attractive for the industry as previous cohorts.  In the last six months, pet owners who were new shoppers in 2020 spent 42% less on Pet Products/Services than those who had their pet in 2019.  They spent 16% less on Veterinary Services.

Average Spend

Note: 182 days ending 8/15/2021; 2019 Pet Owners made at least 1 transaction during 2019 in the Pet Products/Services Industry, 2020 New Pet Owners made no transactions in the Pet Products/Services Industry before 2020, but at least 1 transaction in the Pet Products/Services Industry in 2020