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Increased pet grooming at home creates an opportunity for retailers

Since the pandemic, grooming has been one of the fastest-growing segments in pet care, says NielsenIQ study

Last year, as pandemic lockdowns caused humans to start buzzing their heads and coloring their hair at home, they also began grooming their pets at home. As lockdowns lifted, many consumers continued to home-groom their pets, whether to save money, out of an abundance of COVID protection or because they learned to enjoy the experience — much like cooking and baking, crafts or any number of new habits picked up in the pandemic.

According to NielsenIQ, while the sales growth rates for pet grooming necessities like brushes and combs, grooming supplies, shampoo and conditioner have slowed since the peak purchasing period back in May 2020, sales remain substantially above pre-COVID levels, with total pet grooming sales up 27.4% since the outset of the pandemic. This far outpaces the 3.2% growth generated by the total pet care category.

More than 11 million U.S. households adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Pet Products Association’s (APPA’s) “COVID-19 Pulse” study. This sparked sales growth across all pet care categories (i.e., pet supplies, pet food and pet treatments). Pet supplies have been the fastest-growing category in pet care throughout the pandemic and pet grooming has been one of the fastest growing segments within the category.

There are a total of 106 million pet-owning households in the United States, according to the APPA’s 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey, but NielsenIQ Homescan data show only 12.3 million of those households purchased pet grooming products in the year ended Oct. 31, 2020. That leaves a lot of opportunity for retailers and manufacturers to capture new buyers.

“By offering pet-friendly products that make clear connections between consumers’ reprioritized sense of self-care and pet personal care,” reports NielsenIQ, “brands and retailers will be able to tap into the large segment of households that have yet to purchase within the pet grooming category.”

Much of the current pet grooming supply purchases currently occur online. E-commerce accounted for more than half (53%) of all pet grooming dollar sales between April and September 2020, up 11% compared with pre-COVID levels. Within this 53% figure, roughly 5% of e-commerce purchases were fulfilled via click-and-collect — but click-and-collect sales heavily declined after the peak pandemic purchasing period in May. NielsenIQ suggests that by offering exclusive in-store savings, special click-and-collect promotions, in-store product education and contactless payment and pickup methods, retailers can entice those online shoppers (and home pet groomers) to visit brick-and-mortar stores and convert additional sales.

As the pandemic has turned many Americans into do-it-yourselfers, pet grooming at home could be a trend with long-term potential.

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