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Halloween has gone to the dogs

Halloween has gone to the dogs

A French Bulldog as a cowboy. A dachshund as a bat. A Boxer as a butterly.

These are some of the costumes pet owners submitted for Albertsons’ Purina-sponsored “Hairy N Scary” Halloween photo contest.

Even those who didn’t have a costume for their pets could enter by picking from a number of online “stickers” and virtually dressing up their pets.

The winner received a $250 donation to a local animal shelter of their choice.

The promotion was received very well, with dozens of photos uploaded on the contest site, Albertsons.com/hairynscary.

“Halloween is always a fun holiday to celebrate, but we wanted to think outside of the box for this campaign,” Elizabeth Perryman, Albertsons’ digital community manager, said in a statement. “People love to dress up their pets for Halloween and we thought that would be such a fun way to get in the Halloween spirit.”

Indeed, pet lovers want to show their furry friends. Nearly 3,000 Hy-Vee shoppers participated in its “Cutest Pet” contest last year.

Publix, too, recently let shoppers vote on the cutest pet photos with its Paws-brand photo contest. The grand-prize winner received a $750 Publix Gift Card, while one runner-up received $250 Publix Gift Card.

Why all the retail attention on pets? Simple: Pet owners spend money, and lots of it. Overall spending in the pet industry is expected to reach $58.5 billion by the end of this year, a 4.9% growth over 2013, according to the American Pet Products Association.

The food category is expected to reach an all-time high this year with $22.6 million in estimated spending. This category represents highest spending segment of the pet industry. This is because pet food trends continue to follow human food and diet trends.

Take Petbrosia.com, an e-commerce site that creates custom-tailored dog and cat food. The company asks customers provide about their pets, including breed, age, weight, energy level and allergies. Using veterinarian and nutritionist designed algorithms, Petbrosia then recommends what is says is a customized food blend that has optimal levels of protein, carbohydrates and fats.

“We use your pet’s information to keep their diet appropriate for their level of activity, tailored to their health needs, and allergen-free,” according to the company.

The emergence of such businesses demonstrates just how much consumers love their pets — and will spend on them.

So whether it’s a photo contest like the one at Albertsons or a complete revamp of a pet department, retailers need to take animal lovers seriously.

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