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Holidays for Pets


Pet owners are willing to spend big money on their furry family members. That’s especially true during the holidays, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA).

“More pet owners will be buying Christmas gifts for their pets than ever before, and spending more money on them,” Greenwich, Conn.-based APPA predicts. At least half of all dog and cat owners traditionally purchase pet gifts, and the organization expects that purchases this holiday season will be “to the tune of 20 million people spending at least $210 million!”

Retailers that ramp up holiday offerings of pet items stand to benefit if those predictions hold true.

“Just like the rest of the retail landscape, holiday is prime shopping for the [pet] toy segment,” notes Leslie Yellin, EVP of Moonachie, N.J.-based pet product designer and importer Multipet International. “Shopping for just the right gift during the holidays always includes four-legged family members.”

Holiday Appeal

In the 20 years it has offered holiday items, Multipet has found that “toys with a holiday theme” make popular gifts. The company’s holiday lineup has expanded over the years to include the classic Loofa Dog in Santa, reindeer and snowman designs; the Nordic Monkey in several colors; and this year’s new line of Weavie Christmas toys “made of tough woven fabric for moderate to tough chewers,” says Yellin.

Holiday themes are fine, but whatever you offer, make sure customers know they’re safe for their pets. That means toys that don’t have small pieces that could come off and be swallowed, according to holiday safety tips from

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) also advises taking precautions when buying pet toys as holiday gifts.

“Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallow the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines,” ASPCA cautions. The New York-based organization recommends chew toys “that are basically indestructible,” plastic toys that can be stuffed with healthy foods, or chew treats that are safely digestible.

Cat toys present different dangers.

“Long, stringy things are a feline’s dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery,” according to ASPCA, which suggests such safer options as a ball that’s too big for Kitty to swallow and stuffed catnip toys.

Promotions Drive Holiday Traffic

Creating eye-catching displays and special pet-themed promotions can help grocery retailers go head to head with pet specialty shops to boost pet product sales during the key holiday time frame.

“Merchandising retail end caps is essential for great sell-through for seasonal products,” stresses Yellin. “This year, we worked with a large chain to design and merchandise a Build Your Own Stocking end cap. The end cap will feature plush stockings along with a selection of toys that can be purchased to fill up the stocking. By offering the toys right along with the stockings, the retailer is driving multiple unit purchases.”

In addition, stores can reach out to pet-loving customers by hosting special events throughout the holiday season.

Many pet specialty stores, for example, offer pet photos with Santa. The folks who flock to those stores to create photo memories probably buy pet food and holiday gifts there, too. Why not work with a local photographer to organize a Pet Pictures for Christmas weekend, and then stock the area with holiday pet toys, food and other accessories?

Working with a local vet, kennel or shelter to create a “Keep Your Pets Safe This Season” flyer — full of information on how to select safe pet toys and how to protect pets from holiday hazards — is another nonproduct-focused promotion that could help drive sales.

“Merchandising retail end caps is essential for great sell-through for seasonal products.”
—Leslie Yellin, Multipet International

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