Today’s Veterinary Business Staff
Sales of pet food and treats fell by 5.8 percent over the past year at U.S. veterinary clinics as more consumers turned to online sources, according to a Nielsen Co. study.
Overall, the estimated 27,000 to 30,000 veterinary practices sold $1.6 billion worth of food and treats in the 12 months ended June 2018. The revenue translated to $53,300 to $59,200 for the average hospital.
“Relative to other channels, e-commerce is taking its toll on the vet clinic brick-and-mortar channel, as pet parents may be seeking online vet clinics for support or filling their prescriptions online more often,” Nielson reported.
The data analysis company pegged sales of pet consumables at $32.7 billion across all channels, a rise of $1.5 billion, or 5 percent, from the previous 12 months. The breakdown:
- Mainstream retail such as grocery and mass-market stores, $16.0 billion.
- Pet superstores and neighborhood pet stores, $8.0 billion.
- E-commerce, $3.6 billion.
- Farm and feed stores, $3.5 billion.
- Veterinary clinics, $1.6 billion.
E-commerce sales rose by 53 percent in the 12-month period, Nielsen stated.
“The online growth figures alone might set alarm bells ringing for brick-and-mortar pet retailers, but consumers aren’t flat-out abandoning physical stores in favor of e-commerce,” Nielson pointed out. “In fact, when it comes to shopping for Fido and Mittens, pet owners are pretty particular. According to Nielsen’s Digital Shopping Fundamentals research, 1 in 2 pet owners indicate that they don’t ever plan to shop for or purchase pet items online.”
Nielsen provided one piece of advice for veterinary hospitals: Promote wet diets.
“It’s interesting to note that wet foods, often perceived by consumers as a healthful alternative to dry options, represent a much higher share of the category within vet clinics than among other pet food retailers,” Nielsen added.
Overall sales of wet food for dogs increased by 4.7 percent, with products claiming to be “natural” experiencing a 43 percent jump.