Barking Blondes: Department stores embrace the hound pound but still ‘no dogs’
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, £12.99hound pound
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