’Tis the Season to Shine
Retailers can turn their stores into a holiday destination with
everything from Christmas and Hanukkah toys to winter coats and snuggly beds.
PRODUCT MERCHANDISER FOCUS
BY HILARY DANINHIRSCH
It might be hard to envision it now, with sum- mer still winding down, but before you can say “Santa Claus,” winter will be bearing
down, bringing with it cold weather for much
of the country. Although they have their very
own fur coats, pets still need to be kept comfortable this winter, and they can often benefit
from warm beds, booties and coats.
Style and function are important to consumers when it comes to cold-weather gear.
“Pet parents are not only looking for elevated
functionality, but they also expect exceptional design and
a fashion flair,” said Jacqueline Prehogan, founder and CEO of
Canada Pooch Ltd. in Toronto. “More and more, we see pet parents
looking to share their love of fashion with their pets, and for their
dogs’ wardrobes to reflect their own personal sense of style.”
A winter wardrobe can add excitement to a store’s selection.
“Holiday colors and sparkle perk up a retail floor,” said Karen
Karpinski-Fuhrmann, director of merchandising and product development for Beverly, Mass.-based PetEdge.
This year, the company is launching new silhouettes of its Zack
& Zoey Sparkle Sequin Velvet Santa Coats and Dresses.
PetEdge’s ThermaPet collection protects dogs from the harshest
elements with thermal technology “inspired by the space emergency blankets that rescue workers use to wrap around people suffering from hypothermia,” Karpinski-Fuhrmann said.
The new ThermaPet Nor’Easter Coat features a solid-color, water-resistant shell that reverses to soft plaid fleece. The ThermaPet
collection includes coats, boots, beds, mats and blankets.
Other trends that PetEdge sees continuing into the holiday season are “cozy sweaters made of natural yarns, chunky-knit sweaters with a homespun look, and sweaters adorned with unique details like the ones we offer with antler or bear ears sewn into the
hood,” Karpinski-Fuhrmann said, adding that PetEdge will release
new designs of jacquard-knit sweaters and hoodies, which were
popular last year.
At Bentley’s Pet Stuff, which has stores around the U.S., owner
Lisa Senafe reported that last season’s best-sellers were functional
clothing items, such as coats with built-in harnesses as well as Wellies, rubber booties by Canada Pooch.
“As fall comes and the days get shorter, reflective wear and col-
lars and leashes are great to put out,” she said. “People still want
to walk their dog, and it’s important to have reflective or light-up
Senafe said she anticipates bringing in more tech-
based items, such as USB rechargeable light-up col-
lars and leashes, as well as flashing LED light-up
Warm beds are big-ticket items that many
pet owners will buy for their pets this season.
“While bedding is an all-season category,
we now offer a wide-ranging collection of pet
beds, and some of them are perfect for the colder season—for example, the ultra-soft Snuggle
Bed or the classy Houndstooth Beds,” said Lisa
Hisamune, associate director of sales at P.L.A. Y.
(Pet Lifestyle And You) in San Francisco.
HOLIDAY GIFT GIVING
Part of what drives winter buying trends is the in-
creased humanization of pets, which includes the notion
that pets should be part of holiday celebrations—complete
with their own presents and themed accessories.
“Consumers love the holidays, so expect a continued solid market this year,” said Robin Kershner, executive vice president of Sykesville, Md.-based Pet Palette, a distributor of pet products.
Pet Palette carries 11 brands, and Kershner
anticipates offering the largest selection of holiday items yet: 250 items, half of them new.
“Almost all of our vendors have new prod-
ucts this year,” she said. “The biggest new intro-
duction is from Lulubelles, who is featuring their
second year of holiday products and launching new
toys under their POW-er Plush line.”
For many retailers, toys and accessories are the biggest
“Christmas is all about the Christmas-themed cookies, toys, collars, antlers and hats,” said Jill Bladon, owner of Tailz in Edmonton,
When it comes to winter items, especially apparel, geographic location can be a big predictor of what items will fly off the shelves.
Bentley’s Pet Stuff has stores in multiple states and carries merchandise based on location.
“We won’t carry the same gear in our Colorado stores that we
would carry in our Georgia stores; we cater to our store surroundings,” Senafe said.
“Geographically, here in the Rockies, people want the tradition-
al Rocky Mountain Christmas feel,” said Charlene Cherniwchan,
owner and CEO of Mut Hut Pet Emporium in Canmore, Alberta,
Canada. “Anything mountain-themed is always popular.”
Product styles change from year to year. For example, last year’s
customer for Christmas-themed collars might expect to see new pat-
terns to choose from this year.
“Most consumers will not keep pet toys or neckwear from sea-
son to season, so they will come in for fresh products,” Kershner
said. “They might ask for their favorite products from last year, or
they might want to try something new and fresh. Consumers will
buy across category segments, so a retailer will want to be ready
for this demand.”
When is the best time to stock holiday and winter items? The
earlier, the better.
“We’ve seen a trend in buying earlier for unique holiday items,”
said Matthew Moorefield, co-founder of Yarn and Bone Pet Supply Co., which has locations in Camden and Rehoboth
Yarn and Bone started merchandising
holiday items at its beach location in July,
Hisamune reminded retailers to
keep Hanukkah in mind as well
during the winter holiday season.
“We get many comments that
there are not enough Hanuk-kah-themed dog items available,
so that’s why we created a Hanukkah plush toy set,” she said. “
Customers truly appreciate a store that
can cater to all holidays.”
GETTING IN THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT
With so many opportunities for visual mer-
chandising, the fall and winter seasons will
likely spark a retailer’s creativity. Props, themed
keep Hanukkah in mind as well
MU T HU T PE T EMPORIUM
PET PALETTE EXCLUSIVE
Bow Ties, Neck Ties,
Collar Buds, Scrunchies,