UK shoppers set to splash out on Christmas gifts for pets, SymphonyIRI finds

Christmas treats for pets

Christmas treats for pets

UK consumers spend £25m on snacks and treats for cats and dogs in grocery outlets in December, according to SymphonyIRI Group.

Whether it’s a Christmas gift wrapped under the tree, or an opportunity to let cats and dogs over-indulge over the festive period as their owners often do, there is a very clear increase in spend during this period, said researchers.

In December 2011, European consumers spent just over £5m on snacks and treats for cats and £19.6m on dogs and the expectation for spend in December 2012 is that this will be higher again, said SymphonyIRI.  

The peak in spend takes place the week before Christmas, indicating consumers are buying gifts for their pets, such as chewy snacks like Dentastix and treats like Dreamies.

For the 12 month period to 27 October 2012, the total spend on snacks and treats for cats and dogs was £234m, said SymphonyIRI. 

Apart from the peak in December, the average spend in each month does not change significantly but there is a lull at the beginning of January as the Christmas presents are eaten and, subsequently, less are purchased, said researchers.

UK shoppers like to treat their pets at Christmas

UK shoppers like to treat their pets at Christmas

Tim Eales, director of strategic insight, SymphonyIRI, said: “Despite the recession, we are spending more on our pets, especially on snacks and treats. The British love their pets, they are part of the family, so can’t be left out at Christmas and these make great gifts for them.”

The increase in spend on snacks and treats for cats and dogs is identified as part of in-depth research conducted by SymphonyIRI Group, which is available in its latest Pulse report. The report provides insight into European consumers’ spending on pet care, highlighting an additional 3.4% spend on pet care across Europe in the year ending June 2012, which follows a similar increase in spending of 2.7% in y/e Q1 2012.

The Pulse report for Pets is one of 10 category reports designed to show high-level comparison and analysis for retail markets across major countries in Europe, including UK, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy. The report contains data relating to dog food, cat food, other pet food and pet accessories.

Of the six countries, the greatest increase in spending on pet care during the year ending Q2 2012 was in Spain (7.1%). An increase of 4.7% in the UK was reported; 3.9% in France, 2.2% in Italy, 2% in Germany and 0.8% in the Netherlands. This resulted in a total spend of 8.1bn euros on pet care during this period.

Cat food is the strongest segment within pet care, showing the fastest growth and accounting for 50.2% of the total spend in the year ending Q2 (4.1 bn euros). Wet single serve portions of cat food are the main driver and this is where national brands are investing significantly, said researchers. 

In fact, a move towards smaller size portions at higher than average prices, new premium tastes or new user-friendly packages is evident, said SymphonyIRI. 

Dog food is also growing with 3bn euros spent by Europeans feeding their canine friends (accounting for 36.9% of value sales). 

Pet accessories (the bulk of which is cat litter) grew slightly, accounting for 9.4% yet other pet foods decreased in value sales, only accounting for 3.5%.

Eales said: “It seems pet care is proving to be recession-proof throughout Europe. Consumers continue to spend more and more on their furry friends. We have found pet care is not as promotionally reliant as most major FMCG markets, but promotions are growing across most of the countries and pushing sales. We are starting to see a big trend towards snacks and treats, especially those promoted as being healthy options for pets, such as chewy sticks that are good for their teeth. There is certainly a move towards food that is promoted as being good for the pets.”