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Merry Christmas, Rover & Fluffy

For many households, Christmas is nothing if not an inclusive holiday: a little something under the tree for everyone, whether they go about on two legs or four. More than half of the dog owners and more than a third of cat owners will be lovingly wrapping presents for their pets, according American Pet Products Association (APPA).

Future guide dog Laser will be spending his holidays with Michelle Barnard of the Breslau Lions Club. [elena maystruk / the observer]
This year’s national pet owners survey found 53 per cent of dogs and 38 per cent of cats receive gifts at Christmas.

The trend is certainly in evidence locally, as an Elmira retailer has seen many customers picking up gifts for their pooches and kitties. Beyond being inclusive, the pet presents often help make the kids happy, while keeping overly-curious pets occupied during the gift-giving on Christmas morning.

“I know at my house I give them something to keep them occupied. My dog loves to get into the wrapping paper, and I’m sure other people have found it that way,” said Elmira’s Village Pet Food Shoppe manager Kristy Franklin of her own experiences at Christmas.

She adds that the extra efforts and money spent are for the sake of the kids. Children don’t want toys just for themselves at Christmas, they want them for the cats and dogs too, as a way to include them in the festivities and the holiday experience.

“They’re out buying presents and they are like, ‘what about my dog?’” she explained, adding that Christmas is the shop’s busiest time of year.

As Christmas Eve nears, Franklin is already beginning to see an influx of customers willing to dish out a little dough for family members of the furrier variety. People can be seen buying everything from squeaky and plush toys to special treats and collars and spend anywhere from $10-$30 to bring that little sparkle into their pet’s eye on Christmas morning.

Pet retailers are often the leaders in sales during the holidays, according to a recent report from the APPA. Even during the more worrisome years of the recession people continued to buy for their pets, with numbers remaining steady from 2009 to 2012.

An American survey of U. S. retail leaders conducted by management consulting firm Hay Group heralds a rejuvenated shopping season, with 75 per cent of those surveyed predicting higher sales than seen in 2011. The APPA believes that retailers catering to the tastes of the furry customers and their owners will be getting a big slice of the Christmas shopping pie.

“We’ve already seen that pet owners reward their pets and purchase holiday gifts for them in even the toughest of economic times. With retailers and researchers expecting the 2012 holiday shopping season to be even better than last year, we have positive expectations for the pet industry,” APPA president Bob Vetere stated in a recent release.

The trend has even gone as far as debuting specialty pet products and new lines just in time for the 2012 holidays. Such items have already made the rounds at trade shows across the United States.

Things are not much different on the local front. For Franklin the cold weather signals that it’s time to order more of the “gift” items pet owners will likely be looking for. In the past week the shop has padded its stock with more pet favourites for customers to choose from, knowing that visitors will soon be combing the shelves for that last-minute holiday purchase. With the pet present trend going strong, Franklin has no doubt that she’ll be moving many more products before Christmas arrives.

“Selling toys, we can do big time – it’s crazy what we sell in the next two or three weeks. I’ve even noticed it picking up already,” she said.



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