Americans are serious when it comes to their pets. According to a recent survey by the American Pet Products Association, approximately 67% of U.S. households own at least one pet—that’s 84.9 million homes!
There has been a steady increase in the number of pet-owning Americans over the years. In 1988, the first year the same survey was conducted, 56% of U.S. households owned a pet. Of course, the more pet owners there are, the more demand there is for pet supplies.
As the leader in global ecommerce acceleration, we’re constantly curious about the forces impacting shifts in consumer behavior. So, to celebrate National Pet Day, we decided to do a deep dive into the online sales for pet supplies to answer a few burning questions:
- When do people do the most online shopping for pet toys?
- When are people most likely to buy clothes for their pets?
- What about pet food?
- And did COVID-19 change the way people shopped for pet supplies online?
To find out the answers to these questions, our data science team analyzed market demand for pet supplies on Amazon over the past three years. A few of our key findings at a high level:
- Demand for pet supplies was consistently high throughout 2021—week over week, dogs outrank cats
- Demand for pet toys peaks during the holiday shopping season
- Dog toy demand +148% week of Dec 12
- Cat toy demand +74% week of Dec 12
- Early pandemic brought temporary increase in demand for pet supplies, with consistent year-over-year increases ever since
- Online demand for pet food at an all time high in early 2022
Let’s dig into the data.
When is market demand highest for pet supplies?
First, let’s examine weekly demand for pet supplies as a combined category from January 2021 through the end of February of this year.
Demand remained fairly consistent throughout the year, peaking during the “dog days” of summer, and hitting a low point during the holidays.
It appears that demand in 2022 has already begun to climb ahead of January and February of 2021, suggesting this might be a strong year for online sales of pet supplies.
Here’s what demand looks like when we split out the top 3 types of pet categories in our analysis:
Dogs are the most popular pet in the U.S., so it comes as no surprise to see that demand for dog supplies sit at the top of this chart. Cat supplies fell not too far behind, with a nearly identical trend line to that of dog supplies.
Supplies for pet birds meanwhile feel far behind that of America’s most popular pets, seeing only a tenth as much demand.
For a clearer comparative view, we can examine the change in weekly demand for these categories. This also allows us to add a more specific category, like fish tanks, to see if demand for pet fish supplies looks any different.
Here we see that pet bird supplies see demand peak in the spring, with weekly demand rising by as much as 31% over the annual average during the week of May 2.
Fish tanks see demand peak in early spring and again in late summer, with their low point coming in late November and early December.
As for dog and cat supplies, this view underscores just how consistent demand stays throughout the year. The week of June 20th was the peak for both categories, with a relatively modest 11% increase for dog supplies and 9% increase for cats.
Demand decreases rapidly in early fall through the winter for pet bird supplies, while the early December dip for cat and dog supplies maxes out at about 14% below the annual average.
When is market demand highest for pet toys and other specialty items?
While pet supplies see consistent demand throughout the year (particularly for cats and dog), what about the “non-essentials” like pet toys?
Here we see that when the holidays roll around, our furry friends are just as likely to have a pile of presents under the Christmas tree as anyone else, as demand increases by a whopping 117% vs. the annual average during the week of December 12.
You can see that after the holidays, pet toy demand spiked somewhat during the week of Valentine’s Day, 2022 — a phenomenon we didn’t really see in 2021, suggesting 2022 might be seeing some increased demand during certain times of year.
Here’s what demand looks like when we compare cat toys and dog toys:
As expected, demand for dog toys is consistently higher than cat toys, and both see their peak fall during the week of December 12th. But it’s definitely dog toys that get the biggest overall holiday shopping bump, with weekly demand rising by 148% as compared to the 74% increase that cat toys saw during the same week.
When is market demand highest for pet food?
Demand for pet toys followed a pretty unsurprising trend, with a major emphasis on the holiday shopping season. But what about pet food? Is there a certain time of year where pet owners tend to stock up, or does it mirror the relative consistency of pet supplies as a broad category?
Let’s find out.
Demand for dog food is slightly higher throughout most of the year than cat food, with the trends between the two once again remaining quite similar. Dog food saw a slightly springtime bumb, with demand peaking in early May.
Then both cat and dog food saw demand dip slightly over the summer and peak again in the fall.
Interestingly, both cat and dog food has seen demand skyrocket in early 2022 compared to the same time in 2021. We’re not sure what could be driving this trend, but it makes us want to take a wider look at the trends for these categories over the past few years.
The short and long term impact of COVID-19 on demand for pet supplies
We’ve seen a few indicators that 2022 is shaping up to be a big year for pet supplies. Is this part of a larger trend over the past few years? Have the past couple of years spent working from home led more Americans to get new pets, and thus had a long term impact on demand for pet supplies?
Let’s take a look.
This chart makes a strong case that the pandemic has increased overall online demand for pet supplies.
Now, to be fair, demand for pet supplies started 2020 with demand well ahead of 2019. But we see a clear increase in monthly demand during the first months of lockdown, hitting a high point for the year in April.
Here’s a weekly view of 2020 to highlight the impact of the early pandemic on online demand for pet supplies.
Demand rose sharply as people turned to Amazon to stock up on supplies in the face of lockdowns and the early pandemic. But while that initial increase in demand was clearly an acute reaction to supermarkets and pet stores temporarily closing their doors, there’s been an undeniable year-over-year increase in 2021 and 2022 so far.
The long term trends for dog and cat food look somewhat different than pet supplies as an entire category:
Demand for dog and cat food also rose sharply in the month of March, but fell off much more quickly in April. This might be the result of people overcorrecting and stocking up on far more than they needed to early in lockdown, and then returning to in-store shopping after burning through their stash of pet food.
2021, meanwhile, started the year behind 2020, but quickly rose above any previous year, but 2022 has already brought an all-time monthly high when compared to any of the previous two years.
The early months of the pandemic had a negative effect on dog and cat toys, as people were clearly more likely to spend their money on essentials like food and supplies.
2020 did see the holiday demand rise to an all-time high, however, suggesting that perhaps there were indeed more new puppies and kittens in houses across America that year.
2021 saw monthly demand remain consistently higher than any previous year until the holidays hit, when 2020 was still slightly higher.
A lesson for brands
Pet supplies are popular year-round, but our data shows that different types of pet supplies hit their peak in demand at different times of the year than others.
Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.
And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedue a demo today.