Pet stores across the U.S. are seeing huge spikes in sales as pet owners prepare for coronavirus shutdowns

By now, you’ve certainly seen images of empty store shelves as panic around the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) leads consumers to stock up everything from groceries, to cleaning supplies, to (according to another of our reports) lots and lots of booze.

We’ve also seen restaurants, bars, and especially lodging places experiencing huge losses in revenue.

But what about our pets? Are pet stores seeing huge increases in sales as Americans stock up on pet food and supplies?

At Womply, we’ve been analyzing revenue data at local businesses in all 50 states and across hundreds of business categories. Let’s dive into the data for pet stores.

A daily view of how pet store sales are trending compared to the same time last year

Another way to look at impact on pet stores is to analyze every day of the 2020 calendar year against sales on the closest day of the week in 2019. That’s what you’re seeing in the chart below for all 50 states (we’ll look at specific states and cities later on).

This chart includes only data from pet stores that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open pet stores vs. a comparable day in 2019.

A few observations from this view:

  • Pet store sales have been up consistently all year long so far in 2020.
  • On March 12th, after major national news events surrounding the coronavirus began to snowball, sales spiked to 34% above the same time in 2019
  • On Monday, March 16th, shot up to a 57% increase as several states ordered the closure of bars and restuarants
  • Sales hit a high point on Friday, March 20th and remained high through the 25th, as more states issued stay at home or shelter in place orders
  • Things slowed down at the end of March and early April, but expect more random spikes in revenue as Americans manage stocking up on supplies in the face of an uncertain future

As you might expect, these trends are similar to those we saw in our grocery store analysis, showing that Americans stocked up on pet supplies in addition to their human supplies.

Map: Last week year-over-year change in pet store revenues

One way to look at the impact of COVID-19 on pet store and service sales is to look at the most recent week vs. the same time period in 2019. The graphic below shows this view, updated daily to show the most recent 7-day period.

Note, you can click on a state to view county-level data

As you can see, pet store revenue was inconsistent over the last week (the week of Monday, April 27th). Pet stores in about half of the country saw revenue drop below 2019’s figures, while most others experienced moderate to significant increases in revenue.

This is a big change compared to the way this map looked back in March, when nearly every state in the U.S. saw increases in revenue.

Map timeline: daily year-over-year change at pet stores

Here’s an animated view of how COVID-19 impacted pet store sales day-by-day:

 

Colorado was one of the first states to stock up on pet supplies

Now, let’s drill down and look at a few states and metro areas. First up, Colorado—home to some of the most preparation-oriented pet owners in the country.

This chart includes only data from pet stores that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open pet stores vs. a comparable day in 2019.

Observations:

  • Sales shot up to a 137% increase on March 11th, the day after Colorado Mayor Jared Polis declared a state of emergency.
  • March 13th, the day Colorado reported its first COVID-19 fatality, saw sales jump to 156% above 2019’s figures.
  • Pet store revenue skyrocketed even further to a 191% increase on March 16th after Colorado ordered a statewide closure of dine-in restaurants, bars, as well as other types of businesses.
  • Sales have since softened, as Coloradans are clearly well-stocked up on pet supplies

New York pet stores were ransacked as pet owners braced for outbreak

New York was one of the first U.S. states with confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, and is currently home to more confirmed cases of the virus than any other state.

As such, New York state and local officials have instituted multiple drastic measures in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. As you might expect, those strict measures have prompted shoppers across the state to stock up on pet supplies.

This chart includes only data from pet stores that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open pet stores vs. a comparable day in 2019.

Observations:

  • Pet stores across the state of New York have seen multiple major spikes in revenue throughout the year, including early ones on February 20th and 29th.
  • New York pet stores shot up to a 195% increase as pet owners prepared for the statewide stay-at-home order

New York City pet stores were likewise hit hard by customers stocking up on goods for the stay-at-home order.

This chart includes only data from pet stores that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open pet stores vs. a comparable day in 2019.

Sales at pet stores in the New York metro area climbed all the way to a 217% increase on March 20th, as New Yorkers cleared the shelves at pet stores all over the city.

Californians stocked up on pet supplies to prepare for statewide shelter in place order

In addition to New York, California has had a disproportionately high number of confirmed coronavirus cases, particularly in the bay area.

Here’s a look at how sales at California pet stores have been impacted as the situation across the state grew more serious.

This chart includes only data from pet stores that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open pet stores vs. a comparable day in 2019.

Observations:

  • Sales first spiked on March 13th, as schools across the state canceled classes, and restrictions against mass gatherings went into effect
  • On March 16th, the day the bay area announced its “shelter in place” policy, represented a high point for pet store sales across the entire state

Speaking of the bay area, let’s take a closer look at pet stores in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Marin counties:

This chart includes only data from pet stores that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open pet stores vs. a comparable day in 2019.

As you can see, pet owners in the bay area first started stocking up on March 4th, then again around the 11th and 12th. Then sales shot all the way up to a 158% increase as shoppers ransacked pet stores to make sure they’d have enough pet supplies in stock for the upcoming “shelter in place” order.

Pet stores in the LA area, meanwhile, have seen several major spikes in sales:

This chart includes only data from pet stores that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open pet stores vs. a comparable day in 2019.

Sales nearly doubled 2019’s totals at LA area pet stores on March 14th, again on March 16th, and nearly doubled up once more on the 20th.

What’s next for U.S. pet stores?

If COVID-19 continues to spread in the U.S., we can expect continued runs on pet stores across the country. Particularly as more states and cities order “shelter in place” or “stay at home” directives in an effort to control the spread of the virus. That will result in spiky revenue patterns as consumers decimate store shelves, followed by pet stores trying to restock.

In general, this bodes well for pet store revenue, although their inability to restock could lead to long-term softening in revenue. If the U.S. economy goes into recession as a result of the coronavirus, all local businesses will feel the pain, including pet stores whose customers have to cut back on special treats for their furry friends.

We will continue to update this data analysis over time, and we’re continuing to analyze sales patterns at other local business types.

Visit our COVID-19 research and resources page for more reports on the impact of coronavirus on local businesses

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