Australians Spend Billions on Pets Amid Retail Lull

Australians may be cutting back on spending on themselves as they cope with inflation, but when it comes to their pets no expenses are spared.

GK Hart | Vikki Hart | Stone | Getty Images

New data from global market research firm IBISWorld shows pet owners in Australia spend on average A$1,460 ($1,428) a year on their pets and the firm expects the sector to generate revenue of A$7.88 billion in the 2011-2012 financial year.

According to IBISWorld Australia General Manager, Karen Dobie, pet grooming, walking and minding services will be the key contributors to the rise in revenue.

“As a nation we are increasingly time poor, resulting in more and more Australians outsourcing elements of pet care,” said Dobie.

She added, “The proliferation of animal health programs on television and radio has increased consumer awareness of animal health issues and the new age treatments available.”

In 2010-11, Australians spent almost A$796 million on buying pets. IBISWorld expects this to grow by 1.6 percent in the current financial year, to reach A$808.5 million.

“Australians spend about A$2.8 billion each year on pet food, with more and more pet owners opting for gourmet options,” Dobie said.

Amanda Hewson, owner of pet grooming centre Dogs@Play in Sydney, told CNBC that sales growth has been steady, despite the lull in retail spending. She added that Australians were splurging on a range of services, depending on their personal and professional circumstances.

“We’ve been trading for six years …. people are worried about their jobs at the moment, so they’re working longer hours, and spending more on things like doggie day care, and our walking services,” said Hewson.

She added that people were happy to spend money on their pets, “as everything else changes, your pet will always be there for you.”