Walmart has opened its first pet services center in Dallas, Ga., with both veterinary care and grooming options available.
Two-thirds of U.S. households own a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association, with unprecedented growth in recent years. The report shows that 23 million U.S. households adopted a pet during the pandemic, significantly impacting the pet industry, which is expected to reach $277 billion in total spending by 2030.
Pet product sales are forecasted to grow 6.6% to $78.34 billion according to market research company, eMarketer. But the company also said that overall growth is on a downward trajectory since peaking at 27% in 2021 during the height of the pandemic-fueled pet boom.
However, Petco CEO Ron Coughlin suggested earlier this year that the pet supplies industry was “resilient to inflation” because pet owners continue to need to feed and care for their charges even when prices rise. “But the category isn’t immune to economic pressure as several pet-related retailers, including Petco and Chewy, recently noted a growing share of customers trading down to lower-priced foods,” according to Insider.
“Unfortunately, many pet owners are feeling the burden of rising costs as pricing in the pet category continues to increase higher than the national inflation rate,” Walmart said. The retailer also said that the data shows “we have good timing.”
Highlights of Walmart’s new pet services include:
- Routine veterinary care (vaccines, wellness exams, and minor medical services)
- Grooming (baths, nail trims, teeth cleaning, ear cleaning, and basic hair trims) and a self-serve dog wash
- Services provided by qualified veterinary and grooming professionals in collaboration with vet care and pet product company, PetIQ
The Walmart Pet Services center pilot is also where Walmart first opened the doors to its first Walmart Health center in 2019, aimed at providing convenient access to basic health care solutions in one central location.
The Georgia test center will serve as a learning opportunity to then expand to other communities in the future, Walmart said. The company said it also has plans to expand its pet category offerings and assortment across the country.
“And for an even more seamless experience, a new online Pet Pharmacy experience is coming soon to Walmart.com and the Walmart app,” the company said in a statement.
This includes the testing of a new subscription service where customers can schedule automatic deliveries of their frequently purchased items at a cadence that fits their preferences. “Based on our pilot testing, the pet category has been where customers have most eagerly embraced this convenience,” Walmart said.