Power of the ‘Pooch pound’ on the up as nation spends £12 billion on ‘man’s best friend’

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British dog owners now spend a total of £12 billion on their pets every year, according to research by American Express.

What’s more, there has been a marked increase in recent years as a result of both average spend per hound rising (now £1,342 per dog from £1,252 in 2016) and the total number of dogs across the nation also going up (from 8.5 million in 2016 to an estimated 9 million today).

As a result, dog owners now spend £1.36 billion more in 2018 across the nation as a whole than they did in 2016. Some of the principal beneficiaries of the rise in spending have been the small businesses that have sprung up to cater for rising demand. When it comes to shopping for their pets, over half (58%) say they like to use small and independent retailers – citing quality of service and the fact that shop owners know their pets and can help find the best products for them.

The research, commissioned by American Express ahead of Small Business Saturday, found that the festive season is a bumper time for the nation’s dogs as doting owners will spend £166 million in total – an average of £18.42 per dog – on Christmas treats and gifts. A quarter of the nation’s dogs (25%) will receive a Christmas stocking which over one in ten (12%) will find themselves dressed for the season in a canine Christmas jumper.

One shop that is benefitting from the nation’s love for their pets is Woofs A Daisy, a family-run business based in Kingston, Surrey. The store provides specialist grooming services and sells a range of high-quality pet products, including a wide range of natural foods, many of which are sourced from trusted local suppliers.

Jane Higgin, owner of Woofs A Daisy, said: “As a small business (and animal lovers ourselves), we are thrilled to see that the nation loves to treat their pets and are using independent shops to do so. A benefit of being a small business is that we can get to know our customers and their furry friends well.  We have built up a very loyal customer base in the local area and enjoy providing the products and services they love. Happy pups make us all happy!”

When it comes to spend through the course of the rest of the year, the research found that, on average, dog owners spent £390.48 a year on dog food – the biggest single cost. The other necessary expenditure was on insurance (£251.76 a year) and their dog’s health (vet bills and medicines coming in at an average £63.87 annually).

That means that the remaining £636.11 spent on average per pooch annually is discretionary. Those costs include toys, professional grooming, kennels, clothing and accessories.

Spend Average cost
Toys and Treats £204.24
Grooming (shampoo, trimming fur massage etc.) £204.12
Exercise – dog walkers £172.44
Accommodation – kennels or day care £28.99
Clothing/Accessories and bedding £26.32

The research comes ahead of Small Business Saturday, of which American Express is the founder and principal supporter. Taking place on 1 December 2018, thousands of independents, dozens of local councils and business groups will celebrate the nation’s small businesses and encourage people to shop small ahead of the festive season.

Caroline Bouvet, VP at American Express said It’s no secret that we are a nation of dog lovers, and we love to spoil them. 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. We hope dog lovers will show their support for the pet stores, grooming parlours and other independent pet businesses that serve them and theirbest friend by shopping small this Small Business Saturday, and beyond.”

American Express is principal supporter of Small Business Saturday and is incentivising Amex Cardmembers to support their local small shops with its Shop Small offer. When American Express Cardmembers spend £10 or more at participating small businesses between 1–16 December 2018 they will receive a £5 statement credit.