Pets treated as kids
The surveys show pet spending decreases as the number of people in the household increases. Spending the most are married couples without children in the home.
The extravagance over pets doesn’t surprise Mindy Pozzuto. She brought her brindle-colored Labrador retriever mix, Jonah, to a shop for what she called his “mani-pedi” appointment.
The visit, she said, was “to beautify him up a bit.”
Jonah was getting his nails ground down by store groomer Merenda Smith to prevent him from scratching the family’s hardwood floors.
Pozzuto said she feeds 5-year-old Jonah, rescued from Summit County (Ohio) Animal Control, a “high-tech” dog food made with lamb because corn and chicken products upset his sensitive stomach.
On another aisle, pet parents Courtney Napier and Adam Deets of Fairlawn, Ohio, were picking up a large bag of the pricey Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain grain-free dry dog food for their 11-month-old black Labrador retriever named Jed, who suffers from food allergies.
Jed accompanies the couple to the store every two to three weeks, said Napier. Each time he visits, the dog is permitted to pick out a toy of his own choosing.
“Sometimes it takes him 10 minutes to pick out a toy. He loves coming to the store,” she said as she watched the pup sniff his way along each bin in the aisle. Jed finally settled on a large rawhide bone he nudged out of a bin with his nose and onto the floor.
The Consumer Expenditure Survey by census workers gathers information on consumers, including buying habits, income and consumer unit (families and single consumers) characteristics. It is the only federal survey that provides information on a complete range of consumer spending and used to aid policy decisions.
The figures are the national averages for all households, including households that did not make any purchases for that category. Households chosen from a Census Bureau master address list are recruited for the consumer spending survey.
The diary survey is conducted annually with 7,000 households that are asked to keep track of all spending for a week. Census workers examine the diary after the first week, then ask the household to continue for a second week, thus providing 14,000 “good” weekly diaries each year, Henderson said.
“That’s where we pick up a lot of those - I call them Walmart items - where you are going through the store and you pick up a lot of those things while buying groceries, toothpaste and cat food and toiletries and flashlight batteries - all those things that by the end of the day you have forgotten,” Henderson said.
The second survey used to collect data is based on interviews of 7,000 households every three months for a year about their spending habits. They provide another 28,000 interviews each year.
“For that part of the population you get the big expenditures, or the repeat expenditures - every month you pay your Netflix bill or your electric bill to keep the lights on, “ Henderson explained.
The households represent two different population groups and the same families are not in the same survey.
“About one in every 10,000 addresses is represented. In other words, if you are in the sample, you represent about 10,000 people,” Henderson said.
The breakdown of pet spending from 2007-11 suggests that veterinarian services showed the highest percentage increase of 16.1 percent, from an inflation-adjusted $123 to $143. However, in the interim, there was a spike in 2008 to $216.