Smitten young plan to splash the cash on their new pets

cat-1941089_1920The rise in pet ownership during Covid may have been well documented – and truly exploited by pet-food and pet-care brands alike – but what is perhaps less well known is that it is Millennials and Gen Zs who have become the most “pet-tastic”, with just over half (52%) of 18- to 34-year-olds buying or adopting a furry, feathery or scaly friend since March 2020.

So says a new study by American Express, which is naturally keen to pounce on an opportunity, too, by providing financial advice about pet ownership.

While much of the country was confined to their households for significant periods over the past 18 months, more than 16 million animal lovers brought a pet into their homes and lives.

Dogs were the most commonly bought or adopted pet during lockdown (14%), followed in popularity by cats (10%) and then fish (4%) with hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits and birds each being bought or adopted by 2% of the population.

The research shows that not only were pets being purchased during lockdown, but many pets already in households were treated more than ever during this time.

A quarter (24%) of Brits who owned a pet before the pandemic say that they spent more on their pet during lockdown compared to before, with those who spent greater amounts saying they spent an average of £89.40 extra, equating to £588m when extrapolated across the nation, on top of their usual expenditure.

The study also found pet-loving Brits plan to spend an average of £23 each treating their animal companion in the first month that children are back at school, and (in some cases) adults return to the office, equating to £287m planned to be spent across the UK. This included spend on dog walkers and pet day-care facilities, as well as food and toys.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is the wealthiest area where spend will be highest, with those in the capital planning to shell out on average £59 per pet over that first month. Even so, the Scots debunk their reputation for being stingy, coming equal second (£26) with the West and East Midlands.

The best of the rest comprises Yorkshire & Humberside (£24), the North East and North West (£20), the South East (£16) and South West and Wales (£15) with Northern Ireland bringing up the rear (£14).

With families back at the school gates, it is Brits with children spending more on clothes and accessories for their pet (£18), than those without (£13), ensuring that their pets are looking great for the school run, Amex concludes.

Back in May, Pets at Home hailed its customer loyalty strategy as a major factor in its annual retail revenues surpassing £1bn for the first time as Covid triggered the huge rise in pet ownership, with working from home lifting the ‘historical barrier’ to adopting pets.

The retailer’s revenues increased by 8.8% to £1.02bn and total sales rose by 7.9% to £1.14bn in the year to March 25.

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