Sunday December 10th, sat at the kitchen table with the other half, laptop open, credit card at the ready….

….me to partner “what do you think this one?  It’s 100% wool and they’ve got it in both the boy’s sizes, so they can have the same.  Do you like the green one with Santas on it, or the red one with snowflakes on?”

…partner to me “do you not think they’ll be too warm in wool?  Do they have any different designs?  It’ll be a bit embarrassing if they go out and everyone’s got the same ones”

…You’d be right in thinking we are just two more parents discussing what Christmas jumpers to buy our children this year.  Oh no…. we’re talking about our dogs.

British shoppers are to spend a reported £750 million on their pets this Christmas, with more than a quarter saying that they spend more on their pets than their loved ones.  Spending on pets has risen significantly; 300% in just the last two years.  Have we really run out of things to buy at Christmas?   We’ve done the table gifts and the Christmas eve PJs, are we now turning to our pets for a new and exciting gifting experience?

There’s certainly no lack of inspiration out there.   On that cold Sunday afternoon in December, we set out to buy two Christmas dog jumpers.  But the box that landed on the doorstep two days later also contained two dog waterproof parkers, some dog reindeer antlers, a set of personalised dog bowls, an Italian leather collar, a wooden retro ball thrower and some venison dog treats.  I could have gone on but thankfully my partner confiscated my credit card.

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So why do we love to spend on our animals in the UK?  Its no secret that we are nation of pet lovers, with around a half of all households having a pet of some kind.  It seems to me that it’s a form of guilt free spending by humanising our furry friends.  During the 2008 financial crisis, spending on pets was unaffected and has continued to rise ever since, suggesting that owning a pet isn’t a luxury, it’s a fundamental part of who we are, rooted in our hunter-gather heritage.  Our pets are part of the family and are to be treated as such it seems.   And without a doubt there’s nothing a dog loves more than being dressed up and photographed.  Ours haven’t requested their own Instagram account yet but I know it’s coming.

Despite a 3.1% rise in inflation, the pet care industry is set to remain strong.  Pet accessories alone were worth £643m in 2016, and are forecast to grow 14.8% over the next five years, making it the fastest growing category in the pet care sector.  Retailers are responding by increasing their pet categories and strengthened partnership to meet this growing demand.   Tesco have linked with Freshpet to increase their chilled pet food offer across stores and Ikea are soon to launch a range of pet furniture in the UK.  In the meantime, I’m off to buy some Pawsecco (it’s a thing).  I can’t have my boys feeling left out on Christmas day. 

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