Britain\u2019s cats and dogs have emerged from lockdown licking their lips as pet treats sales boom, the first annual petcare market report, released by market leader Mars Petcare, reveals.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAcross the board, treats value sales surged year on year from the week of the UK\u2019s first Covid-19 case in February to the partial lifting of lockdown 12 weeks later; Dreamies saw an astonishing 12.9% growth whilst Pedigree grew an equally impressive 11.8% as treating occasions rose 12% in the weeks following lockdown on 23rd March.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe pet treats boom shows the crucial role pets play in providing companionship, particularly in times of stress,\u201d says Nick Foster, Category and Marketing Director; Mars Petcare UK.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe last few months have been challenging for everyone, so it makes sense that many have sought to ease the strain by treating their pets as they were forced to stay inside. Treating is a way of strengthening the bond we have with our pets, rewarding good behaviour and looking after their health needs. It also gives us a powerful emotional reward.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe wider pet food and litter market saw sales climb 3.4% in the 12 weeks to 16 May with treats\u2019 growth gathering pace as lockdown continued. In the final four weeks, cat treats\u2019 growth accelerated to 7.7%. Over the same period, positive dog treats grew by 8.8%.\r\n\r\nWith one in three owners only ever treating their pets with functional products like dental chews, this boom in treating represents a significant opportunity, particularly for specialist pet retailers.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe significant growth of the category shows just how expandable the pet treats market is,\u201d says Foster.\r\n\r\n\u201cDedicated pet shops have the opportunity to educate pet owners on the different products available and, by encouraging them to buy a wider repertoire of treats for a greater number of uses \u2013 such as to show love, reward, train or address health issues \u2013 we can drive more growth.\u201d\r\n\r\nPet food and litter is a highly planned category, with 73% of shoppers researching which products are best for their animals before making a purchase. Pet treat purchases are much less planned, with 44% of sales being made on impulse.\r\n\r\n\u201cRetailers can capitalise on pet treats\u2019 growth potential by disrupting shoppers\u2019 journeys in store and online with clear range segmentation and increased space,\u201d he says.\r\n\r\n\u201cSeasonal sales events are also an opportunity, with 40% of millennial pet owners saying they spend as much on treating their pets as they spend on friends on special occasions.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe omens are good for further growth after breeders and pet homes reported huge demand for cats and dogs as Brits sought to ease the isolation of lockdown with new pets. By 2025, it is estimated that one in three pet care shoppers will be millennial. This generation has greater tendency to spend on pet services and accessories, in addition to spending more on their pets at Christmas and other gifting occasions. Specialist pet retailers can future proof their businesses by offering a wider range of goods and services which will appeal to this generation who now, more than ever, have the opportunity to buy a pet.\r\n\r\n\u201cEmployers are becoming more amenable to staff working from home, making it easier for people to get the pet they\u2019ve always dreamed of,\u201d says Foster, adding that Mars Petcare is now forecasting compound annual growth of 2.4% over the next five years.\r\n\r\n\u201cThis is another reason why the future is bright for the pet food and treats category.\u201d\r\n\r\nFor more information on the future of pet food, click here to read Mars Petcare\u2019s report, The Rising Power of Pets in Pandemic Britain.