Investing in pet care has never been a bigger opportunity for independents, with sales having grown by 3.1% over the past year in convenience stores.

This figure, according to Mars Petcare, is nearly twice the rate of the total grocery market, with sales of the supplier’s treats range having surged in particular.

Between February and April, the supplier reported that sales of Dreamies grew by 12.9%, while Pedigree grew by 11.8%.

This was against the backdrop of the treats category having grown by 12% following lockdown on 23 March.

Mars Petcare’s Chris Rodi on key trends in the pet market

Nick Foster, category and marketing director at Mars Petcare UK, said for convenience retailers, shoppers buying little but often was helping to drive growth of pet care before lockdown.

After lockdown was introduced, this changed. People began making less frequent visits to buy groceries, and spending more during shopping trips.

As many actively avoided larger stores, local convenience stores benefitted as shoppers stocked up on essentials for themselves and their pets.

“Convenience retailers have faced difficult times during the pandemic, and have worked tirelessly to keep their local communities fed and provided for. If there is a silver lining for the channel it’s that there are now new growth opportunities in categories such as petcare,” Foster added.

Perfect petcare opportunities for retailers

Pet treat purchases are much less planned than other areas of petcare, with 44% of sales being made on impulse.

Foster explained that convenience retailers are well-placed to capitalise on this through flexibility when it comes to displays, as secondary siting, brand blocking and clear segmentation can pay off, helping to increase basket spend further.

“The significant growth of the category shows just how expandable the pet treats market is. With one in three owners only ever treating their pets with functional products like dental chews, this boom in treating represents a significant opportunity,” he concluded.

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