Survey: Pets still a priority despite sour economy

According to one recent survey, people would rather sacrifice on spending for themselves than on their children, or even on their pets. Since pets are considered furry “children,” or at least as members of the family by most owners, such results should be not be surprising.

“There’s hardship out there today and our pets are suffering, just like all members of too many families,” said Will Spivey, managing general partner of Trone Inc., a marketing and communications firm in Greensboro, N,C,, which conducted the survey. “But then, we learned that, overall, pets are faring better than other categories which are being more adversely affected (by the recession).”

The survey, conducted in November, surveyed 3,300 adults about everything from shopping habits to vacation plans. Twenty-three percent of dog and cat owners (2,300 respondents) said they would spend somewhat less or a lot less on pets in 2009. Compare that to 49 percent who said they’d spend somewhat less or a lot less on their own expenses. Even groceries would take a bigger hit than pet spending, with 40 percent saying they’d spend somewhat or a lot less on food.

Overall, the Trone survey is consistent with what veterinarians are anecdotally reporting to Dr. Karen Felsted, CEO of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, and what retailers are communicating to Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association.

“I get the sense that everyone’s cutting back, but people are prioritizing, and pets remain a priority,” Felsted saif.

Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can’t answer all of them individually, he’ll answer those of general interest in his column. Write to Steve at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. Send e-mail to