Retailer Pets at Home has seen a sharp rise in sales during lockdown and believes pets boost mental health.
Peter Pritchard, the chief executive said pets played “an incredibly important role” through a period of “social loneliness”.
After all one of the few excuses you had to go out during lockdown “was to walk your dog”.
In the six month run up to October Pets at Home saw a 5.1% increase in revenue.
“The pet care market has been incredibly strong throughout and I think that tells you an awful lot about people’s relationships with their pets and the roles that pets play in people’s lives.
“It has been a lifesaver for many through this incredibly challenging period for everybody in the country.”
He also explained that due to the necessity of home working, more people had time for a pet.
“More people have considered having a pet because their lives have changed and they are at home more often,” he said.
Pets boost mental health… and profit
As pets at home is classed as an essential retailer it never had to close during lockdown.
This allowed the company to enjoy an uninterrupted stream of revenue jumping 12.7% in like-for-like sales in the second quarter.
Membership of Pets at Home’s Puppy and Kitten Club, aimed at newer owners, rose 25% between April and October.
Total sales across that period rose to £574.4m whilst pre-tax profit surged more than 14% to £38.9m.
Unlike many companies during this hard time Pets at Home have actually been recruiting staff and have not furloughed a single employee.
However it it wasn’t entirely smooth sailing with the company’s share price dropping 7.3% to 388p in pre-market trading.
The company also warned of lockdown based uncertainty:
“At this stage, absent any escalation of restrictions, or other significant disruption to our operations, we now anticipate full-year underlying pre-tax profit to be in line with the prior year.”
Julie Palmer of Begbies Traynor, a corporate recovery firm, said:
“Looking ahead, with the value of the resilient UK pet market set to hit £7bn next year and the nation’s love affair with pet ownership showing little sign of abating, chief executive Peter Prichard’s optimism for the future appears well justified.”
However, she added that the retailer would be “mindful of the dampening effect of social distancing measures in store, which may impact margins over the all-important Christmas period and into the first quarter of 2021”.