SuperZoo 2022 is only 4 weeks away. You will see in this advance look, that the Pet Industry and in person trade shows have made a strong return to a more normal situation. The pandemic caused Pet Parents to spend even more time with their children, so the Pet Products segments prospered during this challenging time. However, pet trade shows were shut down, then slowly returned starting in 2021.

Consumers’ apprehensions regarding personal contact fueled exceptional growth in Pet Products sales on the internet. However, most of these $ are coming from proven products. Buyers of all kinds, from consumers to chain store executives prefer to make in person buying decisions on new pet items. Therefore, the strong return of in person Pet Trade shows is critically important to the continued growth of the Pet Industry.

With SuperZoo 2021, the Pet Industry began to get “back on track” to normal. At SuperZoo 2022, we are essentially “there”. Currently SuperZoo 2022 has 1017 exhibitors. That is still 8% less than pre-pandemic 2019 but 39% more than SZ 2021. 1000+ exhibitors is the usual target count for the big pet trade shows. Another good indication of “normal” is the increased enthusiasm from the exhibitors. As of this date only 5 booths (500 sq ft) haven’t been “officially” sold but 3 of these are “reserved”, awaiting final payment. SuperZoo 2022 will be a “full house”.

So how big is the SuperZoo 2022 “house”? There are 266,000 sq ft of booths, a 37,000 sq ft New Products Showcase, with over 800 items, and 17,000 sq ft devoted to Show Floor Education and demonstrations. There are also 80 separate educational sessions on grooming or business subjects totaling 86 hours. This is a great opportunity for the expected 10,000 buyers but also a challenge. They need to put together a plan to take full advantage of SuperZoo’s return to power. Total attendance including Buyers, Exhibitors, Media/Guests is expected to be 17,000. The show will be crowded.

New is always a focus at Pet Trade shows. That also applies to exhibitors. At SuperZoo 2022:

  • 515 Exhibitors weren’t at SZ21
  • 539 weren’t at GPE22
  • And 366 didn’t do either show

Those are some strong arguments for attending SuperZoo 2022. It is definitely a “must do” for all Pet Industry participants. Now, let’s look at some specifics of what you will see there. Note: With a 39% overall increase in exhibitors, you’re going to see a lot of large positive numbers when compared to SZ 2021. I suggest that you focus on share of booths. To gain share, a category in any chart must increase their booth count by more than 38.6%. Change in this measurement will indicate how a particular group or product category is performing.

First, we’ll look at the overall show floor in terms of specialized sections.

  • To help guide attendees’ time on the huge show floor, special sections have grown in size and importance. They exceeded 50% of SuperZoo booths for the 1st time in 2021. They are now up to 58%.
  • You also notice that there were a lot of name changes. Rodeo Drive became Specialty & Lifestyle. Critter Alley is Now Aquatics, Birds, Reptiles & Small Animals and the Innovation Incubator is now Emerging brands.
  • Other changes: Natural & Health were combined and the welcome return of an International Pavilion.
  • Natural & Health are the unquestioned biggest trends in Pet Products. They almost always go together so it makes sense to put them in one section. Natural has been the biggest section for years. Even with a huge overall increase in exhibitors, they essentially maintained their share.
  • Specialty & Lifestyle (Fashion) lost 1.0% in share. This section has been trending down in recent years.
  • The smaller sections all had significant share gains, with Groomers leading the way in their return to prominence.
  • The end of COVID related travel problems made an International Pavilion possible.
  • The increase in share by Emerging Brands is very important because it signals a strong return of new companies to the industry. In fact, there are 265 1st Time SuperZoo exhibitors at the show – 1 in every 4 booths!

Now let’s look at the Exhibitors by type, including animal.

  • While all classifications but Distributors had more exhibitors, only 3 gained share – Business Services, Cat & Dog.
  • In terms of Animals, there are still plenty of exhibitors offering products to cover every need for Pet Parents of all animal types. However, the big gains by Dog & Cat emphasizes that the priority is the “Royalty” of the industry.
  • Business Services is the big story on this chart. This segment includes Companies that offer services to improve existing businesses and those that help in private label production – ingredients, packaging or finished products. In 2015 there were 65 SuperZoo exhibitors in this category. In 2022 there are 176, a 171% increase – almost triple. The driver has been the ever-increasing desire and availability of Private Label products. Private Label brands allow retailers to differentiate themselves, offer consumers more value and usually generate more profit.

Let’s take a closer look at the “royalty”. Here are the top 10 Dog and/or Cat Categories at SuperZoo 2022.

  • This chart is pretty boring and shows that the overall strong showing by Cat & Dog products was largely driven by these most popular categories. There were only 2 minimal share losses – Beds/Mats & Apparel.
  • The categories are the same as 2021. Treats and Meds/Supplements maintained their strong hold on the top spots.
  • Collars/Leads and Toys gained share and maintained rank, showing the focus on pets is both indoor and outdoor.
  • Food is becoming even stronger as Food & Food Accessories had the biggest gains in share.
  • Beds & Mats lost a little in share, -0.04% because their increase in booth count was only up 38.1%, slightly below the 38.6% needed to maintain share. They were also the only category to move down in rank, falling from a tie for 6th in 2021 to 7th place in 2022. That’s not bad for the worst performer.
  • Shampoos maintained rank & Tools had a big share gain. Grooming salons are coming back strong, but also more Pet Parents are doing part of the work. The key is that the Grooming category is becoming more of a priority.
  • Apparel lost -0.04% in share but that may be a win. Fashion has been less of a focus in recent years as Pet Parents turned their attention nutrition, health and wellness. This could mean that the decline has essentially ceased.

SuperZoo has 39% more exhibitors. However, the average booth size fell to 269 sq ft from 294 in 2021. In pre-pandemic 2019, it was 252. This drop in booth size reflects the strong influx of new and smaller companies. They are often the source of new products, so this is great news. Products and services are available to fill virtually every need or want of the attendees. Plus, increasing the size of special floor sections and making them more targeted along with a massive amount of educational sessions are 2 prime examples of the WPA’s ongoing efforts to continually improve the show.

853 exhibitors (84%) focus on Dog and/or Cat. Let’s take a closer look.

There are 283 more Exhibitors at SuperZoo 2022 than 2021. Those offering Dog and/or Cat products grew by 243. The Dog/Cat share increased slightly from 83.1% to 83.8%. Dogs and Cats remain the unquestioned “royalty” of the industry. Once again, we will focus on change in share

  • 27 of 33 categories increased their number of exhibitors
  • Only 9 categories increased their share of total exhibitors

When you look at the Dog/Cat Categories making share gains, you see familiar “faces”. 8 of the 9 that increased share were “Top 10” categories. The other category to gain share is a minor one, tracking & monitoring devices. However, their gain was impressive, +100% in booths and a 0.3% gain in share. This lift is very likely tied to the health/wellness trend. The share loss was widespread as 24 of 33 Dog & Cat categories lost ground. The biggest positive trends are Nutrition, Health & Wellness and Grooming. The “rich” in these categories got richer. #5 Food had the biggest share gain, +2.5%, but #1 Treats led the way in booth count with 106 more exhibitors and #2 Meds/Supplements grew by 84.

6 categories had a minimal drop in exhibitors. Catnip led the way (-3) and had the biggest drop in share, -1.3%. Of the 24 categories that loss share, 3 others had a drop of -1.2% or more – Rawhide, Furniture and Flea & Tick. However, make no mistake. Even with these share losses, all Dog & Cat product needs are more than covered, with a lot of choices in each.

SuperZoo again showcases what is “happening” in the Pet Industry and offers a great opportunity for Industry participants, both exhibitors and attendees, to drive the growth of their businesses. It still takes effort and commitment from everyone, but SuperZoo 2022 is the surest bet in Las Vegas!

Finally, the chart below details the specifics for all 33 of the Dog/Cat product categories that I defined for the Super Search Exhibitor Visit Planner.  (Note: The SZ 2022 Super Search will be available at on 8/1.)

Retail Channel Monthly $ Update – May Final & June Advance

By 2021, the market had generally recovered from the impact of the pandemic. Now we are being hit by extreme inflation, with rates higher than we have seen in 40 years. Obviously, this can affect retail sales, so we’ll continue to track the retail market with data from two reports provided by the Census Bureau and factor in the CPI from US BLS.

The Census Bureau Reports are the Monthly and the Advance Retail Sales Reports. Both are derived from sales data gathered from retailers across the U.S. and are published monthly at the same time. The Advance Report has a smaller sample size so it can be published quickly – about 2 weeks after month end. The Monthly Final Report includes data from all respondents, so it takes longer to compile the data – about 6 weeks. Although the sample size for the Advance report is smaller, the results over the years have proven it to be statistically accurate with the final monthly reports. The biggest difference is that the full sample in the Final report allows us to “drill” a little deeper into the retail channels.

We begin with the Final Report for May and then move to the Advance Report for June. Our focus is comparing 2022 to 2021 but also YTD 2019. We’ll show both actual and the “real” change in $ as we factor inflation into the data.

Both reports include the following:

  • Total Retail, Restaurants, Auto, Gas Stations and Relevant Retail (removing Restaurants, Auto and Gas)
  • Individual Channel Data – This will be more detailed in the “Final” reports, and we fill focus on Pet Relevant Channels

The information will be presented in detailed charts to facilitate visual comparison between groups/channels of:

  • Current Month change – % & $ vs previous month
  • Current Month change – % & $ vs same month in 2021
    • Current Month Real change – % vs same month in 2021 factoring in inflation
  • Current YTD change – % & $ vs 2021
    • Current YTD Real change – % vs 2021 factoring in inflation
  • Current YTD change vs 2019 – % & $
    • Current Real change YTD vs 2019 – % factoring in inflation
  • Monthly & YTD $ & CPIs which are targeted by channel will also be shown. (CPI details are at the end of the report)

First, the May Final. After a slight downturn in April sales generally grew slightly in May. The $ were up for May and YTD vs 2021 for all but Auto. However, when you factor in inflation, for the 2nd straight month only Restaurants had increases in these measurements. Here is the May data for the major retail groups. (All $ are Actual, Not Seasonally Adjusted)

The May Final is $0.5B more than the Advance Report. All but Relevant Retail were up. Relevant Retail: -1.5B; Auto: +$0.6B; Restaurants: +$0.1B; Gas Stations: +$1.4B. Total Sales are up slightly from April, as consumers continue to spend more vs 2021 in all but Auto. However, the “real” numbers give you a different view. All but Restaurants are again really down in all measurements. Restaurants are strong due to a late recovery but also note that half of the inflation in this group came before 2022. The inflation impact on Relevant Retail is especially significant as their Real YTD sales vs 2021 are again negative. Relevant Retail does have the best performance since 2019 as 65.7% of their 30.9% growth is “Real”.

Now, let’s see how some Key Pet Relevant channels did in May.

Overall – 10 of 11 were up vs April. Vs May 2021, 9 reported more $ but only 4 were really up. In YTD vs 2021, 9 reported increases but again only 4 were real. Vs 2019, only the Office/Gift/Souvenir channel was “really” down.

  • Building Material Stores – Their Spring lift has started but it is not as strong as last year. Home Ctr/Hdwe is up vs 21 but Farm stores are down YTD. The Bldg/Matl group has an inflation rate of 11% which produced all negative real numbers. The pandemic caused consumers to focus on their homes which produced sales growth over 30% since 2019 in both channels. Importantly, 61.4% of this lift was real, primarily because the bulk of the lift came from 20>21, prior to the inflation wave. Avg Growth Rate: HomeCtr/Hdwe: 11.0%, Real: 7.0%; Farm: 10.7, Real: 6.7%
  • Food & Drug – Both channels are truly essential. Except for the food binge buying in the pandemic, they tend to have smaller fluctuations in $. However, they are radically different in inflation. The rate for Grocery products is 5 times higher than for Drugs/Med products. Sales for Drug Stores are positive in all measurements and 89% of their growth since 2019 is real. The Real Sales for Supermarkets are down for the month and YTD. Also, only 24.1% of their growth since 2019 is real. Avg Growth Rate: Supermarkets: +6.2%, Real: +1.6%; Drug Stores: +3.9%, Real: +3.5%.
  • Sporting Goods Stores – They also benefited from the pandemic in that consumers turned to self-entertainment, especially sports & outdoor activities. Their normal Spring lift started in March then stabilized in April/May at a level below 2021. Their current inflation rate is 5.7% which is down from 7.5% in April but YTD it is 7.3%. It was also high in 20>21, +4.8%. However, 71% of their 48.1% lift since 2019 is real. Their Avg Growth Rate was: +14.0%; Real: +10.4%.
  • Gen Mdse Stores – Sales in all channels were up vs April. Discount Dept stores are down for the month vs 2021. All other groups are up slightly for May and YTD vs 2021. All real measurements vs 2021 are negative for all channels. Disc. Dept Stores were struggling before COVID and only 1% of their 7.7% growth since 2019 is real. For the other channels, it averages 46%. Avg Growth Rate: SupCtr/Club: 4.4%, Real: 2.1%; $/Value Strs: +7.1%, Real: +4.0%; Disc. Dept.: +2.5%, Real: 0.04%
  • Office, Gift & Souvenir Stores – Their recovery didn’t start until the spring of 2021. Sales are up vs April and vs 2021. The growth vs 2021 has been strong enough that it turned real YTD sales positive vs 2021. However, their real sales vs 2019 are still down -3.7%. Their true recovery is still a ways off. Avg Growth Rate: +1.3%, Real: -1.2%
  • Internet/Mail Order – The growth of the “hero” of the Pandemic is slowing. Sales are down vs April but up vs 2021. Also, their YTD growth rate is less than half of the average since 2019, but 90% of their 78.1% growth since 2019 is real. Their Avg Growth Rates is: +21.2%, Real: +19.5%. As expected, they are by far the growth leaders since 2019.
  • A/O Miscellaneous – This is a group of specialty retailers. Pet Stores are 22>24% of total $. In May 2020 they began their recovery which reached a record level by December 2021 as annual sales reached $100B for the first time. In 2022, they are by far the Sales increase leaders over 2021. As expected, their sales dipped in January from December, but all measurements have been positive every month since then. Plus, 87% of their 58.8% growth since 2019 is real. Their Avg Growth Rate is: +16.7%, Real: +14.8%. They are 2nd in growth since 2019 to the internet. I’m sure Pet Stores are helping.

There is no doubt that high inflation is an important factor in Retail. In actual $, 9 channels reported increases in YTD sales over 2021 and 9 are up for the month. When you factor in inflation, the number with any “real” growth falls to 4 for YTD & monthly. This is a very clear indication of the growing impact of inflation at the retail channel level. Recent data showed that Inflation continues to grow. Let’s look at the impact on the Advance Retail Sales numbers for June.

We have had memorable times since 2019. Some big negatives, including the 2 biggest monthly drops in history but a lot of positives in the Pandemic recovery. Total Retail reached $600B in a month for the first time and broke the $7 Trillion barrier in 2021.  Relevant Retail was also strong as annual sales reached $4T and all big groups set annual $ales records in 2021. Now, radical inflation is a big factor with the largest increase in 40 years. At first this reduces the amount of product sold but not $ spent. This was very evident in June. There was a small overall sales decrease from May but $ were up vs June 2021 for all but Auto. However, the actual amount of product sold vs 2021 fell in all but Restaurants.

Overall – Inflation Reality is setting in. The monthly increase vs the previous year continues to be lower than the inflation rate. The still recovering Restaurants and Gas Stations are up double digits vs 2021 but Auto $ are down again. June set a new $ record for the month, but the real monthly and YTD sales vs 2021 for all but restaurants are down.

Total Retail – Every month in 2022 has set a monthly sales record. June $ are $695B, the 3rd largest of all time. In a normal year, sales should stay at or near this level until dipping slightly in September. However, 2022 is not normal. Sales are -0.4% vs May but are still up 8.9% vs June 2021 and 10.3% vs YTD 2021. However, when you factor in 13+% inflation, both measurements are down for the 4th consecutive month and only 42.3% of the 31.9% growth since 2019 is real. The Avg Growth Rate is: +9.7%, Real: +4.3%. The impact of Inflation continues to grow.

Restaurants – They were hit hard by the pandemic and didn’t truly start to recover until March 2021. Sales in the last 9 months of 2021 exceeded $70B and 2021 was the biggest year in history, $876B. January sales fell from December but have turned up since then setting new all-time monthly records in March>May. $ fell -2.5% in June but they are the only big group that is positive in all other measurements. Inflation is high at 7.5% for June and 6.9% YTD but it is the lowest of any big group. 60.9% of their 30.7% growth since 2019 is real. The May/June % is up 50% from April, showing the appeal of “eating out” after months of cooking at home. Their Avg Growth Rate: +9.3%, Real: +5.9%. They only account for 12.7% of Total Retail sales, but their positive performance significantly helps to improve the overall retail numbers.

Auto (Motor Vehicle & Parts Dealers) – This group actively worked to overcome the stay-at-home attitude with great deals and a lot of advertising. They finished 2020 up 1% vs 2019 and hit a record $1.48T in 2021. In 2022 sales fell in January, turned up in Feb/Mar, fell April>May and were +0.4% in June. They are unique in that their Mar>June monthly sales are below 2021. These are the only reported sales negatives by any group vs 2021. This is bad but their real sales numbers are much worse. Extremely high inflation has pushed their real sales down -9+% in all measurements vs 2021, the worst overall numbers of any group. Plus, their 26.7% growth since 2019 is really down -2.3%. Their Avg Growth Rate: +8.2%, Real: -0.8%. It is likely that the drops in the reported $ales in March>June vs 2021 are tied to high inflation.

Gas Stations – Gas Stations were also hit hard. If you stay home, you drive less and obviously need less gas. This group started recovery in March 2021 and reached a record $584B for the year. Sales fell in January and February then turned up in March>June. They have the biggest increases vs 2021 and 2019 but it is not reality. Gasoline inflation is in all of the headlines and is by far the highest of any expenditure category. It is over 47% YTD for 2022 vs 2021 and has even caused consumers to buy 5.7% less than they did in 2019. Avg Growth Rate: +14.5%, Real: -1.9%. It’s a textbook example of the initial impact of inflation. Consumers are spending more but buying less, even less than they bought 3 years ago.

Relevant Retail – Less Auto, Gas and Restaurants – This the “core” of U.S. retail and accounts for 60+% of Total Retail Spending. There are a variety of channels in this group, so they took a number of different paths through the pandemic. However, their only down month was April 2020. They finished 2020, up +7.1% and 2021 got even better as they reached a record $4.50T. They have led the way in Total Retail’s recovery which became widespread across the channels. Sales fell in January and February, then went on an up/down roller coaster from Mar>June. All months in 2022 set new records but their YTD increase is now 22.7% below their 10.1% avg growth since 2019. Now, we’ll look at the impact of inflation. 64.2% of their 31.3% growth since 2019 is real. However real sales vs 2021 are down -3.8% for the month and -1.0% YTD. This shows that inflation is only a 2022 problem. Their Avg Growth Rate: +10.1%, Real: +6.4%. The performance of this huge group is critically important. This is where America shops. Real YTD sales are down 1.0% so the amount of products that consumers bought in 2022 is less than in 2021. They just paid more. That’s not good.

The impact of inflation is becoming even more apparent. All groups but Restaurants now have no monthly or YTD real growth vs 2021. Both Auto & Gas Stations are even “really down” vs YTD 2019. Added together, this has produced 4 straight months of real monthly and YTD drops for Total Retail. We are in Phase II of inflation. Consumer spending grows but the amount bought declines. With 4 straight down months vs 2021, the Auto Group is likely in Phase III, when consumers actually cut back on spending. If inflation continues, this worsening situation will become more widespread.

Here’s a more detailed look at June by Key Channels

  • Relevant Retail: Avg Growth Rate: +9.5%, Real: +6.4%. 4 channels were up vs May but 8 vs June 2021, producing a June $ales record. 10 were up YTD vs 2021 but you will see the negative impact of inflation in the real numbers.
  • All Dept Stores – This group was struggling before COVID, and the pandemic hit them hard. They began to recover in March 2020 and have continued to grow in 2022. Their YTD numbers have been positive vs 2019 since April but in June they are still down in real terms in all measurements vs both 2019 & 2021. Avg Growth: +0.1%, Real: -2.5%.
  • Club/SuprCtr/$ – They fueled a big part of the overall recovery because they focus on value which has broad consumer appeal. Inflation is a big factor in their current numbers. June sales are down from May but up vs June 2021 and YTD. Their real numbers are down and only 38.9% of their 17.5% lift from 2019 is real. Avg Growth: +5.5%, Real: +2.2%.
  • Grocery- These stores depend on frequent purchases, so except for the binge buying in 2020, their changes are usually less radical. Inflation has hit them hard. $ are down from May. Monthly & YTD increases vs 2021 are strong but inflation is stronger. Real sales are down and only 21.8% of the growth since 2019 is real. Avg Growth: +6.3%, Real = +1.4%.
  • Health/Drug Stores – At least the drug stores in this group are essential, but consumers visit far less frequently than Grocery stores. Most of their COVID ride has been rather calm. However, sales turned down in June vs May and 2021. Their inflation rate is low so 89% of their 13.7% growth from 2019 is real. Their Avg Growth is: +4.4%, Real: +3.9%.
  • Clothing and Accessories – They were nonessential, and clothes mattered less when you stayed home. That changed in March 2021 and resulted in explosive growth which has continued until June 2022. $ are down 8.1% from May and only +0.2% from 2021. YTD $ are still up 10.1% and 88% of their growth from 2019 is real. Avg Growth: 5.0%, Real: 4.4%.
  • Home Furnishings – They were also less impacted by COVID. Sales dipped Mar>May in 2020. Then as consumers’ focus turned to their homes, furniture became a priority. Inflation is high. They are up from May, but growth is slowing and all their real numbers vs 2021 are negative. Only 30.4% of their growth since 2019 is real. Avg Growth: +6.9%, Real: +2.0%.
  • Electronic & Appliances – Look at the graph. This channel has problems beyond the pandemic. Sales fell in Apr>May of 2020 and didn’t reach 2019 levels until March 2021. Sales are up from May but are down across the board vs 2021. The increase from May and deflation kept sales positive vs 2019 but only +1.1%. Avg Growth: +0.35%, Real: +0.44%.
  • Building Material, Farm & Garden & Hardware –They truly benefited from the consumers’ focus on home. This year’s spring lift is somewhat inconsistent as $ fell 4.2% from May. June & YTD sales are up vs 2021, but when you factor in strong, double-digit inflation, the amount sold vs 2021 is significantly lower for both. However, 61.3% of their strong 37.5% sales growth since 2019 is real. Their Avg Growth is: +11.2%, Real: +7.1%.
  • Sporting Goods, Hobby and Book Stores – Consumers turned their attention to recreation and Sporting Goods stores sales took off. Book & Hobby Stores recovered more slowly. Sales were up 5.7% from May which kept the month & YTD $ up vs 2021. However, all real measurements are down vs 2021. Inflation in this group is lower than most groups and most comes from Sporting Goods. 79% of their 37.7% growth since 2019 is real. Avg Growth is: +11.3%, Real: +9.1%.
  • All Miscellaneous Stores – Pet Stores have been a key part of the strong and growing recovery of this group. They finished 2020 +0.9% but sales took off in March 21. They set a new monthly $ales record in December. $ are -4.4% from May but from April>June they have held the top spot in both monthly & YTD lifts vs 2021. Their YTD growth since 2019 is 2nd only to NonStore. Plus, 82.8% of the 44.8% growth since 2019 is real. Their Avg Growth is: +13.1%, Real: +11.1%.
  • NonStore Retailers – 90% of their volume comes from Internet/Mail Order/TV. The pandemic accelerated online spending. They ended 2020 +21.4%. The growth continued in 2021. In December monthly sales exceeded $100B for the 1st time and they broke the $1 Trillion barrier for the year. Their Growth has slowed significantly in 2022 but all measurements are positive. 88.7% of their 72.6% increase since 2019 is real. Their Avg Growth is: +20.0%, Real: +18.0%.

Note: Almost without exception, online sales by brick ‘n mortar retailers are recorded with their regular store sales.

Recap – The Retail recovery from the pandemic was largely driven by Relevant Retail. While the timing varied between channels, by the end of 2021 it had become very widespread. In late 2021 and now in 2022, a new challenge came to the forefront – extreme inflation. It isn’t the worst in history, but it is the biggest increase in prices in 40 years. Moreover, each month it is getting worse. On the surface, the impact is almost invisible. Sales in the total market and in the Relevant Retail group continue to grow but the growth has slowed markedly. Overall, the market is generally in phase II of strong inflation – spending grows but the amount purchased falls. The channels in the graph above illustrate this perfectly and show how widespread that it has become. 8 of 11 channels are up vs June 2021 and 10 are up YTD. However, when you factor in inflation, only 2 are up for June and 4 for YTD. Inflation is real and there are real and even worse consequences if it continues. To see an example of this, take a look at what is happening in the Auto Group.

Finally, here are the details and updated inflation rates for the CPIs used to calculate the impact of inflation on retail groups and channels. This includes special aggregate CPIs created with the instruction and guidance of personnel from the US BLS. I also researched data from the last Economic Census to review the share of sales by product category for the various channels to help in selecting what expenditures to include in specific aggregates. Of course, none these specially created aggregates are 100% accurate but they are much closer than the overall CPI or available aggregates.

I’m sure that this list raises some questions. Here are some answers to some of the more obvious ones.

  1. Why is the group for Non-store different from the Internet?
    1. Non-store is not all internet. It also includes Fuel Oil Dealers, the non-motor fuel Energy Commodity.
  2. Why is there no Food at home included in Non-store or Internet?
    1. Online Grocery purchasing is becoming popular but almost all is from companies whose major business is brick ‘n mortar. These online sales are recorded under their primary channel.
  3. 6 Channels have the same CPI aggregate but represent a variety of business types.
    1. They also have a wide range of product types. Rather than try to build aggregates of a multitude of small expenditure categories, it seemed better to eliminate the biggest, influential groups that they don’t sell. This method is not perfect, but it is certainly closer than any existing aggregate.
  4. Why are Grocery and Supermarkets only tied to the Grocery CPI?
    1. According to the Economic Census, 76% of their sales comes from Grocery products. Grocery Products are the driver. The balance of their sales comes from a collection of a multitude of categories.
  5. What about Drug/Health Stores only being tied to Medical Commodities.
    1. An answer similar to the one for Grocery/Supermarkets. However, in this case Medical Commodities account for over 80% of these stores’ total sales.
  6. Why do SuperCtrs/Clubs and $ Stores have the same CPI?
    1. While the Big Stores sell much more fresh groceries, Groceries account for ¼ of $ Store sales. Both Channels generally offer most of the same product categories, but the mix of actual products is substantially different.

Petflation 2022 – June Update: Prices increase to +8.8% above 2021

Inflation continues to make headlines. There have been year over year increases in the monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) larger than we have seen in decades. In June the CPI was up 9.1% vs 2021, beating the previous high of 8.6% in May. Food at Home (groceries) prices continue to surge, up 12.2% over 2021. That’s 4 straight months of double-digit YOY monthly percentage increases. These are the first 10+% increases since 1981. As we have seen in recent years, even minor price fluctuations can affect consumer pet spending, especially in the more discretionary pet segments. With that in mind, we will continue to publish monthly reports to track petflation as it evolves in the marketplace.

Total Pet prices were 4.1% higher in December 2021 than in December 2020, while the overall CPI was up 7.0%. The gap narrowed in March & April as Petflation accelerated to 97.6% of the national rate. In May, Petflation stabilized and the gap widened a bit to 94%. However, inflation in the Products segments surged in June and the gap decreased to 96.7%, again virtually equal to the national rate. Let’s look a little deeper. This and future reports will include:

  • A rolling 24 month tracking of the CPI for all pet segments and the national CPI. The base number will be pre-pandemic December 2019 in this and future reports, which will facilitate comparisons.
  • Monthly comparisons of 22 vs 21 which will include Pet Segments and relevant Human spending categories. Plus
    1. CPI change from the previous month
    2. Inflation changes for recent years (20>21, 19>20, 18>19)
    3. Total Inflation for the current month in 2022 vs 2019
    4. Average annual Year Over Year inflation rate from 2019 to 2022
  • YTD comparisons
    1. YTD numbers for the monthly comparisons #2>4 above

In our first graph we will track the monthly change in prices for the 24 months from June 2020 to June 2022. We will use December 2019 as a base number in this and future reports so we can track the progress from pre-pandemic times through an eventual recovery. Inflation is a complex issue. This chart is designed to give you a visual image of the flow of pricing. You can see the similarities and differences in patterns between segments and compare them to the overall U.S. CPI. The current numbers plus those from 12 and 24 months earlier are included as are the yr-end numbers for 2020 & 2021.This will give you some key waypoints for comparisons. (Note: the April Peak for Veterinary is also highlighted.)

The pandemic hit home in early 2020. The national CPI was only +0.3% and Pet prices deflated until August. There are 2 different patterns between the Services and the Products segments. Veterinary and Services prices generally inflated after mid-2020, similar to the overall CPI. Food and Supplies prices generally deflated until late 2021. After that time, inflation took off, but the patterns became mixed. Services paused in March and fell in June. Veterinary dropped in May. Supplies prices plateaued then surged in June while inflation in Food is accelerating. Here are some things to note:

  • U.S. CPI – The inflation rate was below 2% through 2020. It turned up in January 2021 and continued to grow through June 2022. 44% of the overall 15.3% increase since 2019 occurred in the last 6 months.
  • Pet Food – Prices stayed generally below December 2019 levels from April 2020 to September 2021, when they turned up. There was a sharp increase in December but 81% of the 9.8% increase has happened since January.
  • Pet Supplies – Remember that Supplies prices were high in December 2019 due to the added tariffs. They had a “deflated” roller coaster ride until mid-2021 when they returned to December 2019 prices and essentially stayed there until 2022 when they turned sharply up reaching a new all-time pricing high in January, beating the 2009 record. Prices plateaued from February to May, but turned up in June, reaching a new record high.
  • Pet Services – Normally inflation is 2+%. Perhaps due to closures, prices increased at a lower rate in 2020. In 2021 consumer demand increased but there were fewer outlets. Inflation grew in 2021 with the biggest lift in Jan>Apr. Inflation got stronger in 2022, slowed a little in March, turned up in April but then prices fell in June.
  • Veterinary – Inflation has been generally consistent in Veterinary. Prices began rising in March 2020 and increased through 2021. Then a pricing surge began in December which pushed them past the overall CPI. Prices peaked at +15.5% in April. In May prices fell and stabilized in June which pushed them below the National CPI.
  • Total Pet – The blending of the different segment patterns made the Pet Industry appear calm. That ended in December 2021 as prices surged in all segments. In June inflation is slowing in Services but growing in Products.

Next, we’ll turn our attention to the Year over Year inflation rate change for the month of June and compare it to last month, last year and to previous years. We’ve added some human categories to put the pet numbers into perspective.

Overall, Prices vs 2021 were up 9.1% vs 2021 with the Grocery increase now hitting 12.2%. There are some small positives. Only 3 of 9 categories had increases over 1% from last month, the same as April & May but down from 5 in March…. And Non-Veterinary Services prices actually fell 0.7% from May. There is a little hope.

  • U.S. CPI – Prices are up 1.4% from last month. In May the increase was 1.1%. June Inflation was +9.1%. The targeted rate is <2%. We remain 4+ times higher than the “target”. Inflation is getting worse, and it accelerated again in June.
  • Pet Food – Prices are up 1.3% vs May and 10.3% vs June 2021. The YOY increase is being measured against a deflationary year, but that increase is almost 4 times the pre-pandemic 2.8% increase from 2018 to 2019.
  • Food at Home – Prices are up 1.0% from May. The increase from 2021 is 12.2%, which is the largest increase in any month since 12.3% in April 1979 and the largest June monthly increase since 15.1% in 1974. Inflation for this category since 2019 is the highest of any category on the chart and is 25% more than the national CPI.
  • Pets & Supplies – Prices grew 0.9% from May and set a new record high. They now have the 2nd highest monthly increase over 2021 of any industry segment, but still have the lowest increase since 2019.
  • Veterinary Services – June prices grew 0.2% from May. They are up 7.5% from 2021 but now trail Food & Supplies in the Pet Industry. They also remain 2nd in the increase since 2019 with 16.9% compared to Food at home at 19.7%.
  • Medical Services – Prices sharply increased at the start of the pandemic in 2020 but then inflation slowed and returned to a more normal rate in 2021. In 2022 prices are turning sharply up, +71% vs the pre-pandemic 2018>19 rate.
  • Pet Services – Inflation slowed in 2020 but began to grow in 2021/22. Prices are -0.7% from May and +6.3% vs 2021. Prices are now below April and appear to be stabilizing, at least for a short period.
  • Haircuts & Other Personal Services – Prices are +0.3% from May and +6.3% from 2021. They are +15.8% since 2019.
  • Total Pet – Inflation is strong and is 3+ times the rate of last year. Service segments prices are becoming stable while the Product segments prices are growing. This is driving Petflation up. In the past, inflation has caused a reduction in the frequency of purchase in Supplies, Services and Veterinary. Super Premium Food has been generally immune as consumers are used to paying big bucks and it is needed every day. We’ll see if consumers are willing to pay the new high prices for food and buy the more discretionary products/services at the same frequency as they did in the past.

Now here’s a look at Year-to-Date numbers. How does 2022 compare to previous years…so far?

The increase from 2021 to 2022 is the biggest for 7 of 9 categories. The average annual increase since 2019 is over 3% for all but Pet Food & Pet Supplies. This is due to deflation in 2021.

  • U.S. CPI – The current increase is double the average increase from 2019>2022, but over 4 times the average annual increase from 2018>2021. Inflation is a big problem that started recently.
  • Pet Food – Inflation is growing stronger, especially after deflation in 2021.
  • Food at Home – The 2022 YTD inflation beat the U.S. CPI by 22.9%. You can see the impact of supply chain issues.
  • Pets & Pet Supplies – Prices have been at record levels since January. Although the 2021>22 increase is being measured against a deflationary 2021, it is significant and tied for 1st with Veterinary in the Pet Industry segments.
  • Veterinary Services – Has the most inflation since 2019 and is the only segment on the chart with a 3+% inflation rate each year throughout the pandemic and recovery. No matter what, just charge more.
  • Medical Services – Prices went up significantly at the beginning of the pandemic, but inflation slowed in 2021. In 2022 there is another pricing surge as the inflation rate is 36% higher than pre-pandemic 2018>19.
  • Pet Services – February & May set records for the biggest year over year monthly increases in history. Prices seem to be becoming more stable, but the current June YTD increase of 6.1% is the largest in history. Demand has grown for Pet Services while the availability has decreased, a formula for inflation.
  • Haircuts & Personal Services – The services segments, essential & non-essential were hit hardest by the pandemic. After a small decrease in March, prices turned up again. The YTD rate is now equal to 2020>21 but still 93% more than 2018>19. Consumers are paying 15% more than in 2019. This usually reduces the purchase frequency.
  • Total Pet – We have seen basically two different inflation patterns. After 2019, Prices in the Services segments continued to increase, and the rate accelerated as we moved into 2021. The product segments – Food and Supplies, were on a different path. They generally deflated in 2020 and didn’t return to 2019 levels until mid-year 2021. Food prices began a slow increase, but Supplies remained stable until we neared yearend. In 2022, everything changed as Food and Supplies prices turned sharply up. Food prices continued to climb. Supplies pricing stabilized then grew in June. The Services segments have had decreases but are becoming more stable. The net was a June YTD CPI increase vs 2021 for Total Petflation of 7.1%, 85.5% of the extraordinarily high 8.3% overall rate. It was only 72.5% in March.

Inflation is strong in the Pet Market. Will it impact spending? Let’s put it into perspective. The 7.1% June YTD increase in Total Pet is far below the 8.9% record set in 2009 but 4+ times larger than the 1.5% avg since then. Although pet spending continues to move to higher income groups, the impact of inflation varies by segment. Supplies is the most affected as many categories are price sensitive. Super Premium Food has become widespread because the perceived value has grown. Higher prices just push people to value shop. Veterinary prices have strongly inflated for years, resulting in a reduction in visit frequency. Spending in the Services segment is driven by higher incomes, so inflation is less impactful. We’ll just have to wait and see the overall impact on Pet Spending of the continued strong Petflation.


The pandemic had a huge impact on consumers. They stayed home and focused on needs, rather than wants. This behavior was very evident in the Pet Industry as the “needed” segments – Food and Veterinary Services, had big $ increases while the spending in the more discretionary segments – Supplies and Non-Vet Services fell. There were other factors that amplified these differences. Services outlets were often deemed non-essential, so they were subject to widespread restrictions and closures. Food had a completely different path. During the early stages of the pandemic, consumers often binge bought essential products to have a backup supply in case there were outages. This behavior applied to Pet Food, which is the only absolutely essential Pet Industry Segment. The result was a $6.8B increase in spending over the 1st half of 2019. It should be noted that Pet Food spending was down in the 1st half of 2019 because the segment was still feeling the impact of the “untrue” FDA warning on grain free dog food. However, the lift was still the biggest year over year increase in history.

Pet Parents maintained this extra supply of pet food throughout the balance of 2020. As we moved into 2021, there were still some outlets that were suffering but most channels had recovered, and the overall Retail Market was prospering. This caused a change in Pet Food spending. Pet Parents obviously didn’t binge again and, in a few situations, even had their pets start to “eat down” the extra supply of food to return to their previous level of home “inventory”. They also increasingly moved to internet purchasing with regular deliveries. As a result, Pet Food Spending fell -$6.4B (-16.9%) in the 12 month period ending 6/30/21 over the previous year and -$5.3B vs the 1st 6 months of 2020.

As you know, the pandemic also caused problems in information gathering for the data collected by the US BLS for the annual Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX), especially in the Diary method which is used for Pet Food. Those were resolved in 2020 and everything returned to a “new normal”.

Now, let’s get started with our Pet Food spending update for Mid-Year 2021. Pet Food (& Treat) Annual Spending was $31.56B, down -$6.40B (-16.9%). The following charts and observations were prepared from calculations based upon data from the current CEX report and earlier ones. The first chart will help put the $31.56B into historical perspective and truly show you the roller coaster ride that continues in Pet Food Spending.

Here are the current numbers:

        Mid 2021: $31.56B; ↓$6.40B (-16.9%) from Mid-2019. The net -$6.40B in Mid 2021 came from:

  ◦  Jul>Dec 2020: Down $1.12B from 2019.            Jan>Jun 2021: Down $5.29B from 2020.

Historical research has shown that Pet Food spending has been on a roller coaster since 2000, with 2 years up, followed by a flat or even declining year. This up and down “ride” has been driven by a succession of Food trends. The most recent were “Natural” in 2011 and “Super Premium” in 2014. Another factor was added in 2013 – deflation. As consumers opted for higher quality, more expensive pet food, competition became more intense, with the Internet now becoming a key player. 2013 was a definitely a game changer for this segment as it began an extended period of deflation which continued through 2018. Midway through 2018, Pet Food prices were still 2.3% lower than in 2013.

The spending drops in 2013 and 2016 were driven by pet parents value shopping for their recently upgraded pet food. As it turns out, 2014 brought out yet another new factor in Pet Food spending. For over 30 years Baby Boomers have been the leaders in the Pet Food, both in spending and in adopting new products. They still spend the most, but it turns out that the 25>34 year old Millennials led the movement to Super Premium in late 2014. The older groups, especially Boomers followed in 2015 and spending rose $5.4B. At the same time, the Pet Food spending of the 25>34 yr olds dropped. At first, we thought they had rolled back their upgrade. However, it turns out they were leading the way in another element of the trend to Super Premium – value shopping. The Boomers once again followed their lead and spending fell -$2.99B in 2016. For consumers, the Super Premium upgrade movement consisted of 3 stages:

  1. Trial – The consumer considers the benefits vs the high price and decides to try it out. Usually from a retail outlet.
  2. Commitment – After a period of time, the consumer is satisfied and is committed to the food.
  3. Value Shop – After commitment, the “driver” is to find a cheaper price! – The Internet, Mass Market, Private label

This brought us to 2017. Time for a new “must have” trend. That didn’t happen but the competitive pricing situation brought about another change. Recent food trends have been driven by the higher income and higher education demographics. However, the “value” of Super Premium was established and now more “available”. Blue Collar workers led a new wave of spending, +$4.6B, as Super Premium more deeply penetrated the market. After the big lift in 2017, 2018 started off slowly, +$0.25B. Then came the FDA warning on grain free dog food. Many of the recent Super Premium converts immediately rolled back their upgrade and spending fell -$2.51B. This 2018 decrease broke a 20 year spending pattern. In the 1st half of 2019, Pet Food spending remained stable at the new lower level. In the second half of 2019 we started to see a recovery from the overreaction to the FDA warning and spending increased by $2.3B. Then came 2020. The recovery was continuing but a new outside influence was added which had a massive impact on U.S. consumers – the COVID-19 pandemic. In March nonessential businesses were closed. This also produced a wave of panic buying in some truly essential product categories. In the Pet Industry there is only 1 truly essential category – Pet Food. Coupled with the FDA “recovery” and the ongoing movement to Super Premium, this produced an incredible $6.76B lift in Pet Food Spending in the 1st half of 2020. Spending fell in the 2nd half of 2020 and plummeted in the 1st half of 2021. Pet Parents didn’t binge again and some even began using up the stockpile that they panic bought in the early days of COVID.

Let’s look at Pet Food spending by the 2 most popular demographic measures – income & age group. They both show the current and previous 12 months $ as well as 2019 and 2020 yearend. This will allow you to track the spending changes between halves and to see where we started, in pre-pandemic yearend 2019. The first graph is Income, which has been shown to be the single most important factor in increased Pet Spending.

Here’s how you get the change for each half of the 20>21 mid-yr numbers using the under $100K group as an example:

  • <$100K Mid-yr Total Spending Change: $17.79B – $17.35B = Up $0.44B (green outline = increase; red outline = decrease)
  • 2nd half of 2020: Subtract Mid-20 ($17.35) from Total 2020 ($16.53B) = Spending was down $.82B in 2nd half of 2020.
  • 1st half of 2021: Subtract Total 2020 ($16.53B) from Mid-21 ($17.79B) = Spending was up $1.26B in 1st half of 2021.

Note: The green/pink fill in the 20/21 numbers indicates if they are up/down vs Yearend 2019.

  • We see 2 distinct spending patterns in the individual groups. The <$50K and the especially the $100>149K groups both binge bought Food in the pandemic so there was a steep spending drop in 2021. The middle income $50>99K and over $150K groups cut spending in the pandemic then began recovery in 2021.
  • Perhaps the most obvious fact is the spending disparity due to income. Prior to the Super Premium era, $70K was the “halfway point” in Pet Food spending. In 2013 the under $70K group accounted for 67.8% of CUs and 51.3% of Pet Food spending. Due to the rise of Super Premium, they lost the lead in 2015 as $70K> spent 50.8% of Pet Food $. In 2020, the binge buying of Pet Food by $100>150K pushed the $100K> group to the top at 55.1%. Then the big drop in 2021 flipped $70K> back into the lead at 60.8%. The halfway point in Pet Food spending is still high but is again below $100K.
  • < $70K > Surprisingly, the Pet Food spending patterns for both groups are the same, but the changes are more pronounced in the higher income group because they had the $ to finance more binge buying. Both show a 2020 COVID lift and a 2021 drop. Also, both groups returned to a spending level above 2019 yearend $.
  • < $100K > The spending patterns of these 2 groups are different in every way. Spending for the <$100K group fell during 2020 then bounced back in 2021 but is slightly below 2019. The $100K> massively binge bought in 2020 so there was a huge decrease in the 1st half of 2021 but they still finished slightly ahead of 2019 $. Both are being driven by a pattern of one subgroup. For the <$100K group it is $50>99K income. For $100K> it is $100>149K.
  • < $50K Both the <$30K and $30>49K have a pattern like the $100>149K but the binge buying was limited due to lower income. However, both did finish the 1st half of 2021 slightly ahead of 2019. While income is the most important factor in Pet Food Spending, it is not the only factor.
  • $50 > $100K – This income group was the most negatively affected by the pandemic. Spending dropped in 2020 for both the $50>69K and $70>99K groups. They bounced back a little in 2021 but didn’t reach the 2019 level. They are under financial pressure in normal times. COVID undoubtedly made things even tougher. The drops and even the failure to return to 2019 $ were probably largely due to value shopping, especially on the internet. However, some CUs may have downgraded their Food. The biggest swings occurred in the middle income $70>99K group.
  • $100K>149K – High income is increasingly becoming “where it’s at” in Pet Spending. In the 1st half of 2020 spending went through the roof. This group drove virtually all of the binge buying of Super Premium Foods. That also made them responsible for most of the current big drop. They did end up slightly above 2019 $.
  • $150K > Their Pet Food spending also fell in 2020. It was most likely due to value shopping and moving to the internet as a primary source. Their spending came back strong in 2021, 10% above 2019. It’s likely that they broadened the range of food & treats purchased and may have upgraded to even more expensive food.

Now let’s look at Pet Food spending by Age Group.

  • Each group had a unique pattern but there is one basic difference. 55>74 binge bought Food. Everyone else didn’t.
  • < 25 – Their spending fell in 2020 but then bounced back in 2021 but not to the 2019 level. The pandemic had a unique impact on them. The number of CUs fell by 2.1M in 2020 as many moved back home with their parents taking their pets with them. In 2021, 1.2M set up a separate H/H again but that’s still significantly less than pre-pandemic. Their movement also helped enhance the spending lift & drop by the 55>64 yr-olds.
  • 25>34 – No binge buying. They value shopped but likely upgraded their food and even added pets to their family which produced the only steady growth since mid-year 2020.
  • 35 > 44 – Their spending drop in 2020 was probably due to increased value shopping, especially on the internet. When things truly opened up in 2021, they opened their wallets and spending exceeded 2019 $ by 12%.
  • 45 > 54 and – They have the highest income, so their spending pattern is somewhat unusual. Their Pet Food spending continued to drop throughout 2020. It turned up in 2021 but was still 15% below 2019. They are an unlikely group to downgrade. They probably focused on savings and convenience and turned to the internet.
  • 55>64 – This group is mostly Boomers, the most emotional Pet Parents. Binge buying food was an emotional response to the pandemic. They have the highest income of any Boomer group so they had the will and means to drive the binge. The movement of their children to & from home also contributed. Ultimately, they are now down 19% from 2019.
  • 65 > 74 – This group is mostly Boomers but with lower income. Their pattern has similar ups and downs to the 55>64 yr-olds but with far smaller swings. There is one difference. Their 2021 numbers exceed 2019.
  • 75> – COVID had virtually no impact on spending. They are committed pet parents as they had a 30% $ lift over 2019.

That gives us the “big picture” for our 2021 Mid-year update of Pet Food spending. Now we’ll take a closer look at the start of 2021. However, rather than compare it to 1st half of 2020 to see the big negative swings, we’ll compare it to the 1st half of 2019 and document the biggest changes since then. This will show how close that we are to a “normal” year.

The first thing that you notice is that the biggest increases are generally much larger than the biggest increases. We should also note that all Housing segments spent more in 2021 than in 2019.

  • There are a number of usual winners, like $150K>, Managers, White, Not Hispanic, BA/BS, 2 People and Gen X. There are also some surprises like No Earner 2+ CUs, Center City and the Northeast.
  • When we look at the losers we see a few familiar names, African Americans, HS Grads & Singles. However, five of the big losers binge bought Food in 2020 so naturally they had a huge drop in 2021. They are Self-employed, 55>64, Areas <2500, Married, Oldest Child 18> and Boomers. They haven’t recovered as yet. Perhaps they will in the 2nd half.
  • It’s a good sign that despite the 2 radical swings we are still $1.5B ahead of the time before the pandemic turmoil began in 2020 and continued into early 2021.

The spending drop was huge in the 1st half, but not unexpected. The huge lift in Pet Food $ in the 1st half of 2020 was an emotional reaction to the pandemic. The retail inventory of many “necessary” items like toilet paper and hand sanitizers was wiped out. Consumers wanted to ensure that they had them at home in case of supply chain issues. In the Pet Industry, there is no more necessary product than Pet Food. The lives of our Pet Children depend on it. With the widespread commitment to Super Premium Food, buying a safety stock produced a huge lift in $. It was clearly an emotional reaction. When it comes to emotion related to pets, there is one group that leads the way, Baby Boomers. In the 90s, they were the 1st group to be defined as Pet Parents and they have increasingly personified their Pet Children ever since. The huge lift was amplified by additional demographic factors. A high income of $100>149K drove the lift. The 55>64 yr-old Boomers have the highest income of their group. This gave them the means to buy the extra Food. Areas <2500 population generally have more pets but fewer retail outlets. This would increase their fear of product shortages. However, the pandemic increasingly came under control in 2021, bringing a desire to return to a new normal. No binge buying. Some began a return to more normal levels of backup, and many arranged regular deliveries. All of these contrbuted to the big drop in Pet Food spending in the 1st half of 2021. I expect a strong lift in the 2nd half. We’ll get the data in September.