In the course of the coronavirus pandemic, many people found themselves stuck at home. Not only did many companies shift employees over to remote work, but safety concerns made it that many people opted not to travel much over the past year -- a trend that's battered hotels.
But all of that time at home fueled a very interesting trend: pet adoption. According to PetPoint, the rate at which pets were rescued from shelters increased 12% year over year in 2020 after several years of remaining relatively flat or even dipping. And while not everyone who got a pet during the pandemic saved one from a shelter or rescue, the end result is the same -- there was a boom in people acquiring pets over the past year.
Now the unfortunate reality is that some shelters are anticipating a heavy rate of returned pets as people go back to work at the office and realize that a pet doesn't fit into their non-pandemic lives. But while that may happen to some degree, many households that adopted a pet during the pandemic will no doubt seek to keep their new addition. And that means pet stores could really thrive in the near term.
Pet stores are here to stay
As of April 2021, there are over 13,000 pet store businesses across the U.S., and pet stores are expected to grow 1.2% this year. But while that may not seem all that significant, let's remember that we're grappling with the threat of the retail apocalypse -- a massive wave of store closures -- in the very near future. As such, any sort of growth in the pet store industry is a positive thing.
At a time when so many retailers have either shuttered locations or are making plans to do so, shopping centers and malls risk a massive vacancy crisis. Enter pet stores.
All of those families who adopted pets during the pandemic -- and had the heart to keep them -- will need supplies and care for those animals on an ongoing basis. And while ordering pet food and other supplies online is not only a viable option, but a cost-effective one, the fact is that many pet stores do more than just sell supplies. These locations also offer obedience training classes, grooming services, and even, in some cases, animal daycare for periods when pet owners have to be away from the home for a long stretch of time. There are services that can't be obtained digitally.
As such, there's reason to believe that pet stores will be around for the long haul. And since they tend to occupy larger amounts of square footage, they could help take the place of shuttering retailers and drive revenue to the shopping centers and malls that need it.
The Millionacres bottom line
While stores were closing at a rapid pace before the coronavirus outbreak began, the pandemic only exacerbated that trend. As such, malls and shopping centers will no doubt start to rely more heavily on those mainstay industries that have the potential to thrive even in the face of the e-commerce revolution. Pet stores happen to fill that bill, and given the wave of adoptions that ensued during the pandemic, investors in commercial real estate will likely be able to rely on them for many years to come.