Eye on Retail: A Pet-Smart Industry Looks Bright for Jobs
Amid the specialty retail area, the pet category is the only store segment that has consistently had a positive showing during the past six years, and everyone wants a piece of the action. Omaha Steaks has pet treats; Kroger is pushing private-label health insurance and pharmaceutical services for pets; Walmart is even hopping on the pet bandwagon by offering grooming services for pets.
But a shining star in the pet sector is PetSmart, the No. 1 specialty retailer in the area. PetSmart has been showing 14 quarters of positive comparable store sales, which puts them near the top of the whole retail pile. In fact, PetSmart’s market share, which was 39.3% in 2007, is expected to rise to 44.3% by year’s end.
IbisWorld’s (IbisSmart is the world’s largest independent publisher of U.S. industry research) 2012 Industry Report on Pet Stores notes that the big-box stores like PETCO and PetSmart now have premium products in the mix, which can hurt smaller specialty stores in the sector that once held onto that niche. Another factor, which is expected to boost the industry’s revenue, is the likelihood that more people will be adding pets to their households over the next five years.
Temporary and permanent positions in pet retailing are prevalent and since it is vital that experienced staff be employed to boost sales, recruiting firms are poised to supply necessary staff in this growing industry. Certain areas of the country have a greater number of pet stores than others. The Southeast, the West, the Mid-Atlantic and the Great Lakes Regions of the country are home to most of the pet stores.
The Southeast is the most populated section of the country, and therefore has the highest number of pet stores: in 2012, 21.8% of all pet retailers were located in the region. Of all states in that area, Florida has the highest proportion of pet retailers, estimated at 7.7% of the nation’s total.
65% of the pet sector’s revenue comes from the top two retailers: PetSmart (44.3% market share) and PETCO (20.7% market share). A smaller chain in this segment is Pet Supplies Plus (240 stores making up 3.6% market share), based in Michigan. The rest of this sector is comprised of small franchises and chains, and independent family-owned stores. The big companies generate over 70% of the industry’s revenue. Even though the numbers are clearly skewed toward the big players, smaller stores have found niche markets in their own geographic areas and those numbers seem to be growing. I have been shopping at a very successful store locally for a number of years – they know their affluent customer base and stock and plan accordingly, offering loyalty programs and hosting “socials” and events throughout the year for dogs and owners.
Despite some consolidation in this sector, job prospects at all levels remain strong and should see continued growth for the next several years.