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Everybody’s Doing it: Everybody’s Buying for their Dog!

Office Pet Dog

Has your dog been naughty or nice this year? Whatever your answer, new research suggests you’re probably spending more than ever on your canine companion, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year—and that you’re spending a lot of your pet pounds with smaller firms.

Small business benefit from pet spend boom

The research, commissioned by American Express ahead of Small Business Saturday, found that UK dog owners now spend £12 billion on their pets every year—up £1.36 billion from 2016. That’s an annual spend of £1,342 per dog.

The good news for small business owners is that much of that money is spent with small businesses. Why? Over half of respondents said it’s because small independent retailers provide better service, know customers’ pets and are great at helping them find the ideal products for their pooches.
So what are dog owners spending their money on? On average, it’s:

  • £390.48 a year on dog food
  • £251.76 on insurance
  • £204.24 on toys and treats
  • £204.12 on grooming, trimming etc.
  • £172.44 on dog walkers
  • £63.87 on health care
  • £28.99 on kennels, day care etc.
  • £26.32 on clothes, accessories and bedding

Christmas, of course, is no exception. Dog owners are predicted to spend £166 million (an average of £18.42 per dog) on Christmas treats for their dogs this year. One in four of the nation’s dogs will receive a Christmas stocking this year, while 12% will be sporting a Christmas jumper.

“It’s no secret that we are a nation of dog lovers, and we love to spoil them,” said Caroline Bouvet, VP at American Express.

“Our research shows that British dog owners are spending more and more on treats for their pets, and many of them are choosing small businesses to do so thanks to the great products and tailored service they provide.”

How a shop pet could increase your sales

If you’re a business owner in a niche where it’s impossible to appeal directly to dog owners, you might think this information is of little value to your business. But that’s not true if you’re prepared to consider putting a pet on your payroll (even if you only pay in biscuits!).

The research also revealed that having an in-store pet can boost the income of small shops across the UK as a whole by as much as £60 million.

  • 36% of shoppers said they are more likely to visit a particular shop if they know there is a dog there
  • 30% said they stay in-store longer (on average, for an extra 13 minutes more)
  • 32% said they are more inclined to take the time to talk to the staff of a small shop that has a pet
  • More than eight million Brits said they would spend on average £6.86 more with a retailer when there is a pet on the shop floor

And the benefits of a business pet might not end there. 61% of dog-owning respondents said their dog keeps them company when working alone, 44% said they are more efficient with working hours because they have to take their dog for a walk and 36% said they believe having a dog around increases their productivity.

Nikki Edelman, director at American Express, said: “It might seem unconventional, but it appears that business owners who bring their pets to work have the perfect company asset.

“The presence of a dog can be a great ice breaker for tentative browsers and can even entice new customers through the front door.”

Nikki encourages everyone, dog owner or not, to “paws for thought” (groan) on Small Business Saturday and support their local independent small businesses.

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