Pet parents accustomed to a level of sticker shock when paying for medications and office visits for their furry family members can get a break with new services offered by Albertsons Cos. The retailer revealed it is offering the fulfillment and transfer of pet prescriptions at its pharmacies, along with other new pet health care programs.
According to Albertsons, customers can pick up their pet’s meds at their local grocery banner and pay less than what veterinarian offices typically charge. The additional service comes at a time when inflation is hitting pet parents hard, including the millions of people who adopted or rescued pets during the stay-at-home stretch of the pandemic. A recent study published in Forbes found that 63% of pet owners reported that inflation has made it harder for them to pay an unexpected bill at their veterinarian’s office.
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Omer Gajial, chief digital officer and EVP of health at Albertsons Cos., cited another statistic. “Nearly 30% of pet owners are grappling with the rising costs of pet ownership amid inflation and most consumers don’t realize that our pharmacies offer prescriptions and over-the-counter medications for people and pets,” he said.
Beyond making pet meds more affordable and accessible, the grocer is delving into other aspects of pet care by testing two pet health service programs in Texas and California. The Penny Paws mobile vaccine clinic is one of those services being piloted at select stores in Texas, offering basic health care including vaccinations, heartworm testing, heartworm prevention and microchipping. Albertsons is also teaming up with Fuzzy to trial video and virtual chats between veterinarians and pet parents. That service, available to the retailer’s loyalty members for an introductory annual price of $59, is being rolled out at all California Safeway, Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions stores.
“Our staff of licensed veterinarians is dedicated to helping pets live a long and healthy life, which is why our community outreach program is so important in protecting canines and felines against devastating and life-threatening diseases," said Dr. Rob Franklin, DVM DACVIM and Penny Paws veterinary community outreach lead. “Offering convenient vet appointments in the parking lots of their neighborhood grocers make this partnership a win-win for pet parents and their fur babies.”
Added Zubin Bhettay, co-founder and CEO of Fuzzy: “We believe every person should have the opportunity to experience the joy of pet parenthood. To accomplish that, each day we are working to make pet care more accessible and affordable through personalized telehealth solutions. This unique partnership with Albertsons Cos. is another step towards fulfilling that goal.”
Albertsons shared other ways that it is working to make pet care budget-friendlier. The retailer offers a pet health savings card via its stores’ pharmacy or grocery mobile apps, which provides deep discounts on the monthly cost of pet drugs. Albertsons also sells a variety of over-the-counter pet medications and provides different shipping and delivery options. As an incentive, the company is giving $75 in grocery gift cards to customers who transfer pet prescriptions to an Albertsons pharmacy after filling their fifth order.
Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons — which recently announced a definitive merger agreement with Kroger — operates more than 2,200 retail stores with 1,700-plus pharmacies, 402 associated fuel centers, 22 dedicated distribution centers and 20 manufacturing facilities. It operates stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia under 24 well-known banners, among them Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lovers Market. Albertsons is No. 9 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.