FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Holidays are Going to the Dogs, Cats and Other Pets

Following the trend established in past years, retailers expect holiday shoppers to shell out big bucks for presents -- not just for themselves and their kids, but their pets as well.

It's no accident that PetSmart has become a giant among "big box" retailers, and many malls features stores such as Jake's Dog House, which sell upscale items for both pets and pet lovers. Pets can enjoy their own holiday activities, and have their pictures taken with Santa. Dogs can now get massages, take yoga classes, and even get facials! Web sites such as CatsPlay.com are picking up where the infamous dotcom victim Pets.com left off, but with a more tightly focused audience -- affluent owners of pampered pooches and coddled kitties.

According to the Pet Industry News, Americans will spend $30 billion on their pets this year. And in one survey, 28% said that they planned to spend more money on Christmas presents for their pets than for their spouses.

Why all this indulgence? Any pet lover will tell you that the wonder of a pet is that they're so different from people... they accept you for who you are, they ask for very little other than some food and a place to sleep, and they really don't care whether you can afford $300 for a doggie sweater. And unlike kids, they don't need to be put through college! As the population grows older and the number of Baby Boom "empty nesters" increases, the demand for companionship will certainly increase. Young singles and couples are finding that pet ownership is a good prelude -- or even alternative -- to parenthood. Some have credited the animal-rights movement for advocating the idea that "animals are people too." Plus, the ability to spend large sums of money on our pets has become a status symbol.

Look for further indulgence of our favorite critters in the future. In the meantime, make sure you have everything on Fido and Buffy's "wish lists"...