ALONG with online fitness, video conferencing and television streaming during more than a year of coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions on movement, the pandemic led to a surge – hardly surprisingly – in pet ownership in the UK.
Reflecting growing spending on pets – more than 3m UK households bought a pet during the pandemic – the Office for National Statistics has now added dog treats to its inflation basket. The question is whether, as vaccines facilitate reopenings, Brits will continue to lavish spending on their animal companions.
Some say this pet mania will tail (oops!) off. Having had nothing to spend money on this last year, affluent humans will return to their usual spending habits and a pampering for the pooch won’t then be top of the list.
Others disagree. Tail off? You’re barking up the wrong tree there! Those still working from home will keep their canine companions – opening the door to a slew of services that will be in demand and that aren’t currently available in abundance.
For example, what do these pet buyers do when they go on holiday without the dog: do they rely on extended family, turn to a dog sitter, or opt for a kennel? For the small business person, this may be a great opportunity to open an appropriate service.
And then of course those who do need to return to the office will pay someone to exercise their pooches.
Moreover, most of the dogs bought in 2020 will invariably live for at least a decade, so will need maintaining. The animal health pharma sector has all the good attributes of human pharma, minus the bad bits. Unlike human health, there is almost no price regulation, no equivalent of the NHS or medical insurers that can bargain on prices, and still plenty of genuine medical needs that haven’t been served. So dogs present great advantages not just for groomers, producers of pet products, but for vets too.
But then, pet mania brings out those animal instincts in us all, doesn’t it?
Nora Johnson’s psychological crime thrillers ‘The Sentinel’, ‘No Safe Place’, ‘Betrayal’, ‘The Girl in the Woods’, ‘The Girl in the Red Dress’, ‘No Way Back’, ‘Landscape of Lies’, ‘Retribution’, ‘Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.net) available online as eBook (€0.99; £0.99), Apple Books, paperback and audiobook. All profits to Costa del Sol Cudeca cancer charity.
Nora Johnson’s opinions are her own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.