Barking Blondes: Department stores embrace the hound pound but still ‘no dogs’

Joanne Good and Anna Webb

IMG 13881 300x225 Barking Blondes: Department stores embrace the hound pound but still no dogsGiven the power of the ‘hound pond’ and the increasing popularity of urban dog ownership, it seems extraordinary that it’s taken so long for a major London department store to get in on the act.

This week, John Lewis revealed its new pet accessory department in its flagship Oxford Street store. Pet enthusiasts will now find, in the basement, nestled alongside household goods, an impressive display of bespoke collars, leads, bowls and toys.

We popped in on Thursday and bumped into a bustling Welsh tourist enthusiastically purchasing a swankily packaged envelope of poo bags.

“I’d popped in for a saucepan, but am thrilled to be able to buy these for my little Archie at the same time,” she grinned.

Apparently, the most searched category by shoppers online with John Lewis,  is “pets”. Therefore, with over 54 per cent of all households owning either a cat or a dog this is a huge target market for pet products. Despite the recession, the pet industry has seen a steady 7.5 per cent growth year on year and the pet accessory market is worth over £500 million alone.

The instant success of the pet department at this store will lead to peter Jones following suit in September and a national roll out in at least 10 other John Lewis stores across the country. Of course, just further down Oxford Street, Selfridges also has a limited selection of pet products and then there is Harrods who have pushed the boat out and dedicated a whole floor to celebrate the love of the English for their pets!

A recent survey revealed that women tend to buy a gift for their pet rather than buying something for themselves, somehow equating this to cost saving, and making up for any sacrifices through altruistically spoiling their pet. We wonder who are the biggest spenders dog owners or cat owners?

The Kennel Club released figures showing that dog owners appear to be the big spenders. According to this research, dog owners earn 4 per cent more than cat owners, and appear more generous than cat owners tending to tip more in restaurants. Also dog owners are more likely to spend if they can take their pooch with them in-store.

So the big question is this. Why, when retailers are bending over backwards to exploit our love of dogs and clearly benefiting from our indulgences, are they so reluctant to let these four-legged customers into the store?

Have you tried to take your dog into a department store? There are so many confusing messages between Liberty, Selfridges and Harrods – some dogs may be allowed if carried but not larger dogs. The overriding message is don’t attempt it. Do you fancy being frog marched out by security you’re your apologetic pooch on lead?

We are waiting for these retail leaders to follow the paw steps of New York and Paris. If you want our hound pounds, either welcome our mutts through your doors or offer them a crèche next to the baby changing facilities. Then sit back and enjoy the benefits. Woof! Woof!

Barking Blondes’ by Anna Webb & Jo Good, published by Hamlyn, £12.99

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  • Gizwiz

    Not sure where I sit on this one. Don’t think I’d want to take a beloved pet into a crowded place where they could get trampled or stressed by the crowds. On the other hand I certainly wouldn’t leave an animal tied up outside – that would be worse. I think the only answer here is to leave a pet at home if you need to go shopping. I don’t think they need or WANT to go everywhere.

  • hectorsmum

    Strangely I have found that those shops catering for Mountaineering accept dogs. It seems that what happened was that the EU, I imagine said that you cannot have dogs where food is prepared and suddenly every shop is frightened to death to have them.
    Personally I do leave mine at home in normal circumstances, he is small enough to be stood on and I will not leave him unattended outside so that he may be tormented or stolen.
    I will say that I find that adults who have fear of dogs pass this onto their children which is truly sad, because not all dogs are slavering monsters. Children should be brought up to respect all life and with that respect comes less fear, we would be a better world if that happened, but I try to avoid people whose body language shows fear.

  • hectorsmum

    Well there is a restaurant in St. Andrews, one of many who have tables outside and many a time Hektor has sat in front of someone who looked to be eating something he fancied, much I must say to my embarrassment as he is not fed at table at home. People generally take it very well once, when yet again I apologise.

  • hectorsmum

    Mine certainly doesn’t want to. We have always taken the point that one of us goes into a shop and the other looks after the dog. My Husband was assured by one woman that she would look after him if he wanted to go into the store. My Husband declined knowing we would not come back to find the dog.

  • hectorsmum

    I am at a loss as to what you are actually saying. Seems you dislike dogs, you think everyone who owns a dog is a selfish idiot.

  • hectorsmum

    Don’t read this article then. I have got to the point where I try to be as far away from people like yourself as I can possibly get, me and the dog.
    Human nuisance is even worse, cannot get away from them no matter how hard you try.

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