American spend $41 billion per year on their pets according to a feature article in BusinessWeek. That’s about $400 per household, and more than the GDP of all but 64 countries in the world.
It’s good to know that the old hard-wired priorities – relationships, even with animals, and schtuff – still trump the new intangibles. According to BW, the yearly cost of buying, feeding, and caring for pets is more than the combined sum of what Americans spend on the movies ($10.8 billion), playing video games ($11.6 billion), and listening to recorded music ($10.6 billion).
Pet care is the second-fastest growing retail sector after consumer electronics. But the intangible economy is unavoidable even here: services like ‘pet hotels’ (kennels, to you and me), grooming, training, and in-store hospitals, have helped PetSmart expand its service business from essentially nothing in 2000 to $450 million, or 10% of overall sales, this year.
(It seems that pets are now more popular as companions for empty-nesters, single professionals and DINKYs, than as kids’ sidekicks. With this kind of infantilization, will it be long before more grown-ups start admitting to still sleeping with teddy bears?)