Pet ownership in the UK is going through a “baby boom” with the Covid-19 pandemic seeing a surge in new owners, according to the boss of Pets At Home.
Chief executive Peter Pritchard said he believes this will see a boost in pet food sales, vets services and grooming as households welcome new animals into their lives.
He said: “We see this as a baby boom because there has been a significant step up in ownership.
“The long-term requirement is the lifetime of the pet and, with more people working from home, more people can have pets at home.”
Since the pandemic, the company has enjoyed “essential” retail status – meaning stores could remain open throughout the lockdown – helping sales rise 5.1% to £574.4m in the six months to October 8 compared with the same period a year ago.
Mr Pritchard added: “When people get dogs, they are thinking of dog walkers, doggie day care, veterinary services and the like. They do an awful amount of research – it’s like having a child.”
He said the company’s Puppy & Kitten Club has seen record sign-ups but also pointed out that the majority of people getting new pets already have at least one.
“The vast majority of pets are people who already have pets. We’re seeing more people with pets already rather than new pet owners,” he said.
Part of the boost has come from flexible working, which he believes will allow office workers to spend more time at home with their new pets.
He said: “People are working on a basis of a flexible lifestyle. There has been a really interesting flip – the old phrase used to be you worked from home now and again to escape the office.
“Now it’s the reverse and people are escaping the home to go to the office.”
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