As businesses worldwide struggle to deal with the fallout of a global recession, it appears that some industries are actually growing. Take pet food, for example: more and more people are seeing a connection between healthy diets for their pets and long-term savings, says Chris Schaefer, owner of Creature Comfort Pet Emporium in St. Jacobs.
“It (recession) has had its impact in that people aren’t spending their money as much on luxury items,” she explained. “We’re definitely seeing a strong focus on health, because … people are very conscious of the costs of medical care.”
Consumers of food – both for humans as well as for their pets – are seeing the connection between sound nutrition and healthier bodies in the long run. As a result, they are more willing to spend their money on preventative medicine and nutrition. Many pet owners, Schaefer said, are feeding their animals quality food products, believing that this will reduce the chances of health complications in the future.
Indeed, sales of holistic, homeopathic and herbal, as well as so-called “apawcathary” products have grown in recent years, said Schaefer.
“The pet industry itself certainly is still expanding and growing with research and development.
“To have a good selection as well as bringing in new options, required growth on our part as well and good strong support from our clients – they are the ones that have enabled us to grow.”
Not all pet products, however, have fared so well in recent months: luxury items, for example, have taken a hit in sales, said Schaefer.
“They (pet owners) may be making do with a collar they had last year rather than buying a new one, and things like that,” she explained.
Creature Comfort in St. Jacobs has seen a relative boom in business in recent months: the pet store on Sawmill Road just recently expanded its facility by an additional 300 square feet (to a total of 1,900) as a result of an expanding product line, and in the last six months has added two new employees to bring its staff to five.
As Schaefer and her staff pondered an expansion, they concluded that staying in the area to serve the loyal client base was a definite priority.
“We needed more space but really didn’t want to move because our clients are all in this vicinity and neighbourhood and we didn’t want to leave them,” she said, noting that they were able to come to an agreement with their landlord that would offer Schaefer access to a greater part of the building. The extended portion now houses dog and cat food and has freed up space, helping to “clean up” the retail section of the building.
“It’s been an amazing improvement for the clients; they can come in with their animals and they can move much more freely in the store whereas previously we were quite crowded, because we have a lot of people who do come in with their animals, and we do nail trims as well so it has given us more space to do the services.”
The recession has certainly had negative implications for the pet market, said Schaefer, noting that increasingly, pet owners are abandoning their animals as they deal with financial pressures.
“The rescues are just flooded, people are literally abandoning their animals in the wild,” she said, adding that rescue organizations are being overwhelmed with stray animals.