BY RICHARD ROWLANDS
The winter holiday season in November and De- cember is the most profitable time of year for many retailers and manufacturers. In fact, with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holiday shopping rush, the
winter season accounts for 10 times more sales than the
next-highest-grossing holiday on the calendar, the back-to-school season.
According to the National Retail Federation, winter
holiday sales in 2016 reached $655.8 billion—a 3. 6 percent increase over the previous year. Sales over the same
period in 2017 are expected to rise to between $678.8 and
$682 billion, an increase of nearly 4 percent.
All this is good news for the pet industry, which continues to experience year-over-year growth. Total U.S.
pet industry expenditures are estimated to reach $69.36
billion in 2017, and the winter holiday season is sure to
account for a sizeable proportion of year-end sales.
But with sales prone to dip following the busy holiday
season, what can pet industry retailers and manufacturers do to ensure a steady stream of revenue during the
remaining winter months?
Pet Product News spoke to five companies in the
industry—three manufacturers and two retailers—to
find out how they boost business during the mid-winter
freeze. Here are five actionable tips to help pet businesses
maximize sales this season:
1) Promote Seasonal Products.
The holiday buying frenzy may be over come January,
but in many parts of the country, the cold temperatures
will linger for several weeks. With this in mind, focusing
on promoting winter products is a selling tactic that can
work well for both manufacturers and retailers.
“The peak season for beds is usually during the win-
ter months as customers look for cozy beds that can keep
their pets warm ... In the winter months, we promote our
seasonally themed toys and plush indoor bedding,” said
Lisa Hisamune, associate director of sales at P.L.A. Y. (Pet
Lifestyle And You) in San Francisco.
Ruffwear promotes its cold weather pet clothing line
“We design our winter-specific gear to keep dogs com-
2) Focus on Pet Health.
fortable in cold conditions,” said Susan Strible, director of
marketing at Ruffwear in Bend, Ore. “Our collection of
boots and coats addresses the challenge of getting dogs
outside when the temperature drops.”
Pet specialty retailers can take full advantage of the
winter ware manufacturers have to offer. For example,
Michael Levy, founder and president of Pet Express, a
multichain store in California, said the chain promotes
appropriate products such as rain coats, sweaters, beds
and heated products.
Aside from items such as warm winter clothing and
bedding, products that promote pet health are often popular sellers after the holiday season.
“We have noticed that pet parents reconnect with
their pets during the winter months when they are more
often indoors and around each other for longer periods
of time,” said Heidi L. Nevala, president and founder of
Natura Petz Organics in Minneapolis. “That reconnec-
tion often seems to lead to observations about health and
The company specifically promotes its Immune Health
Meal Topper, Bionic Body, Life’s An Itch and Gland Can-
dy during winter months.
“If a pet overdoes it on holiday festivities, we also offer a product called Super Model in a Bottle, which is a
healthful way to get rid of the extra pounds sometimes
acquired during the winter months,” Nevala said.
3) Give a Little Extra.
Offering incentives can be an effective way for manufacturers to minimize risk for retailers during the potentially quieter winter months.
P.L.A. Y offers a free shipping deal with a low minimum, because stocking bulky items such as beds for the
winter season can be costly for retailers.
“Our customers appreciate that they can take their
savings from our specials and pay it forward to their customers,” Hisamune said.
Ruffwear offers a “latitude program” to provide similar benefits.
“Our sales strategies are not focused on promotions,”
Strible said. “Instead, we’re working with our retailers to
help them be more nimble, to address changes in consumer buying patterns, seasonal shifts and economic factors.
Retailers pay $99 for the year and get free, same-day shipping when ordering by 10 a.m. with a minimum order of
4) Try a New Approach.
Winter can present an opportunity for companies to
try new approaches to boosting sales. Experimenting with
new promotions is a strategy that has paid off for Loyal
Biscuit Co., which has stores in Maine.
“[In winter,] we have a little more time on our hands
to try different promotions,” said Heidi Neal, co-owner of
Loyal Biscuit Co. “Our most successful was a ‘buy back’
program we did with Canidae. We gave customers a bag
of Canidae’s Chicken Meal & Rice Formula in exchange
for their opened bag of Beneful dog food. We had huge
exposure on Facebook from the promo, and about 30 people actually made the switch.”
5) Solve Customers’ Problems.
Listening to customers and solving their problems is
another way to boost post-holiday sales. It’s a strategy
that Ruffwear recognizes the value of.
“We encourage our dealer partners to ensure their
inventory reflects what their customers need. In harsh
winter conditions, dogs need boots, and customers may
want to be able to try the boots on their dog in-store,”
Strible said. “Having a full-size range of winter-specific
dog boots can be the key to solving a customer’s problem and making the sale. The same goes for winter dog
coats. When weather hits, customers want a solution right
away, and those dealers with inventory will be able to
meet those needs.”
PETS IN THE NEWS
How to Boost Business During
the Mid-Winter Freeze
Brussels Griffon Wins National Dog
Show Presented By Purina
A Brussels griffon named Newton won the Best In Show title for 2017 at The National Dog Show
Presented by Purina, which was held Nov. 23 in Philadelphia.
The 11-pound pup, who has 22 Best in Show titles and top-five national rankings in both the breed
and the toy group, bested six group-winning canines at the all-breed show hosted by the Kennel Club
Roughly 20 million people tuned in to NBC on Thanksgiving Day following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to watch the competition of 2,100 dogs.
Newton’s registered name is CH Somerset Wynzall Hashtag, and he is owned by Mike and Janet
Bazell of Rockbridge, Ohio (St. Johns Kennel); Ven Grasso of Samford, Australia; and breeders Keith
Jacobson of Bellevue, Wash., and Jo Ann Noffsinger of Alberta, Canada. St. Johns Kennel is registered
to Jeffery Bazell and Jeffrey Kestner of Bremen, Ohio.
The other 2017 National Dog Show Group Winners are:
• Herding group: an Old English sheepdog named Sophia of Chatham, N.J.
• Terrier group: an American Staffordshire terrier named Louie of New York
• Sporting: an English springer spaniel named Timmy of Sherman, Conn.
• Nonsporting: a French bull dog named Babe of Fredericksburg, Texas
• Working group: a Portuguese water dog named Noah of Island Lake, Ill.
• Hound group: a whippet named Anna of Modesto, Calif.
11-pound Brussels griffon,
Best In Show
at the National