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Pet Retail Survey finds ‘additional services a must’

THE PET Care Trust, the national charity promoting responsible pet ownership, has published a report on the current state of the UK pet retail sector following a survey last year.

The Trust (formerly the Pet Trade and Industry Association) distributed 4000 surveys to every pet and aquatic retailer in the country, asking questions on a wide range of topics, covering everything from business rates to livestock throughput.

One of the most significant findings was that pet retailers believe additional services are the future for their business. 21% said they currently provide pet boarding facilities and many more are considering offering a wider range of services from microchipping and online purchasing to an 'animal matchmaking service'. 53% may have training to sell a broader range of animal medicines.

Other segments of the report find that, unsurprisingly, livestock plays a key role in the pet retail sector: Three out of four retailers (73.9%) sell livestock. Fish were sold the most (62%) followed by what the PCT calls ‘small furries’ (49.6% - 57.4%) and birds (51.9%). Despite negative publicity in recent years, a small minority (14.9%) continue to sell kittens and cats, though only 3% sell puppies or dogs.

Pet shops rely on a regular customer base: Although there was an understandably high variance, the average number of monthly customers was 906, with an average spend of £13.89.

Retailers are generally well prepared for the implications of the new Animal Welfare Bill's 'duty of care': Retailers are well prepared for new government legislation. 82% already ask for proof of age and 77% said they would be willing to keep a livestock sales register for all animals except fish, with 27% willing to keep a register for all animals.

The sector has yet to embrace technology: 42% said they did not use any IT programmes in the course of their work.

Parking is a major concern: 60% of retailers said parking was available outside their premises and 73% said parking is free for a short stay period. But for the minority who do have parking restrictions, it is a major issue.

Many retailers are still relatively isolated within the industry: only 25% of respondents were members of the Trust and at least 30% were not members of any association.

Copies of the complete survey can be purchased from the Pet Care Trust at £25 for members, and £50 for non-members. Telephone: 08700 624400.