At ¥1.2 trillion, pet sector recession-proof

Kyodo

The average amount spent annually on pet-related expenses by households with at least two members rose 4.6 percent in 2009 from the previous year to ¥18,323, the highest figure since comparable data become available in 1990, according to a recent government survey.

While family spending as a whole is on the decrease, there are no signs of recession in the pet industry, as high-priced pet food and stylish clothing are selling well, pet cosmetics, insurance and various other services are now available and medical costs for pets are rising as they live longer, according to the survey.

As society continues to gray and fewer children are born, and as the number of single-person households expands, more pets are being treated as a child or a companion, said a researcher commissioned by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

“The market will likely continue to expand with owners regarding their pets as family members,” said Shimpei Iwama of the Osaka office of research firm Fuji Keizai Co.

The firm estimates the value of the pet market at about ¥1.2 trillion in 2009.

The survey shows that pet-related expenditures, a little over ¥10,000 in 1993, exceeded ¥15,000 in 2003. Since 2005, expenses have been growing for five consecutive years.

By generation, people in their 50s spent the most on their pets, at ¥28,951 on average in the reporting year, which was about 4.7 times the average of people under 30, showing that the middle-aged and above were the main group supporting the market, having finished raising children.

On the other hand, data on single-person households showed that women aged 35 to 59 spent the most on their pets, at ¥20,752. Overall, women spent ¥12,508 on average, which was more than four times that of men, the report said.

Pet food makes up one-third of the market, with diet food and health conscious “premium food” selling well, according to Fuji Keizai.

Beauty products including shampoos and services such as teeth and ear cleaning are also a big hit as more pets are raised indoors and live in line with their owners’ lifestyles.