In a world that’s been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing’s for sure—the pet industry has made the most of the grim situation and, once again, demonstrated its durability.
By Kelly Lindenau
Via Pet Business
It’s business, but not as usual. If you plopped someone from seven months ago into the middle of a retail store today, they’d be completely lost. Cashiers are partitioned away by thick plexiglass walls, stickers and markings adorn the floors to encourage social distancing and masks are liberally handed out to provide a critical layer of protection.It’s a scene that’s foreign even to the people who’ve lived through the COVID-19 pandemic, and yet it’s the country’s new normal for the foreseeable future. Though it seems like ages ago, it’s only been a few months since the U.S. locked down indefinitely and brought everyone’s lives to a screeching halt. While the stay-at-home order produced a variety of visceral responses—retailer Nancy Guinn, president/owner of Virginia-based Dog Krazy, remembers “waking up and just bursting into tears” upon hearing the news, as she had just signed two leases on new properties the week before—the lockdown ultimately highlighted the resilient nature of the pet industry.
“It showed who’s doing this as a hobby and who’s in this to succeed,” says Guinn. “Pet stores were deemed essential, yet so many closed and stayed home. I understand fear, but you have to find a way to continue through anything that is thrown at you.”
From that attitude, a picture of adaptability and determination was painted. In such unpredictable, turbulent times, it’s easy to succumb to the negativity surrounding society, but the pet industry proved that, once again, it can make the most of a bad situation.
“I believe our resiliency and growth throughout is a sign of the positive impact it has had,” says Michael Baker, president of pet specialty distributor Pet Food Experts. “As an industry, we banded together, and I think the need to quickly adapt to the changes caused by the pandemic made us all better business owners.”
While most industries—namely dining and entertainment—were faced with devastating losses, pet businesses were given the green light to remain open at their discretion. Retailers across the country were amazed at how quickly and effectively their sales team, customers and support services stepped up to become sources of dependability.