The coronavirus pandemic is responsible for a pet boom and boom in pet business.
"Due to a major spike in pet adoptions and families spending more time at home with their pets, we've experienced unprecedented growth this year with a 12x increase since 2019, surpassing projections by more than three times," Bakalar said. "With traditional retail stores closed, we did see an opportunity for new customer acquisition with people who weren't used to shopping online for pets, which has fueled some of our growth this year."
PetCo has filed to be publicly traded on the stock market again on the Nasdaq under the ticker "WOOF." The company's sales hit nearly $4 billion this year, a jump of almost 10% from 2019. PetCo is also expecting a 4% rise in households that own pets.
Bakalar noted that the biggest trend that she's seeing is customers looking for products that solve actual problems, because now there's a new swath of people who weren't expecting to have a pet in their home just eight months ago.
"We see customers looking for more convenient ways to walk their dogs or maximize the utility of their space," said Bakalar. "One of the biggest concerns we've heard, especially during Covid, has been around separation anxiety and boredom. People are looking for products that will keep their pets occupied while working from home."
The American Pet Products Association projects Americans will spend a record-high $99 billion this year on all things pet, ranging from food to veterinary care. Online pet food sales jumped 77% in the U.S. in March 2020 YOY. Pet merchandise is expected to be one of the top gift-giving categories, according to a survey by consulting firm Deloitte. On average, half of those surveyed plan to spend $90 on pet items.
Bakalar said that she doesn't see this as a "short term blip" during the pandemic, because of the emotional value of pets and the fact that people aren't simply returning their animals when the pandemic is over.
"We expect pet adoption rates to continue increasing as work from home and flexible work schedules become more normal," Bakalar said. "Pet adoption rates increased both because of a need for emotional support and also just that the opportunity was there. It is a lot easier to have a pet when you're not going into the office as much."