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Not without my dog: why has retail become so permissive of pets

You go for a walk on a Saturday afternoon and your responsibility as a pet’s keeper is to take it with you. You arrive at a café and feel like having a snack, but… no dogs allowed. This is a situation that has been repeated year after year in the retail sector and that, little by little, could come to an end. Commercial establishments are becoming more and more pet-friendly, which means that they are more open to letting you enjoy a day’s shopping or a good snack with your pet between your legs.

As JLL explains in a study, new work and family models, greater longevity or the growing sense of loneliness in large urban centres are some of the reasons for the growing interest in pets. The number of animals in Spain is increasing progressively: the people of Madrid had 304,666 pets in 2014, in 2018 this number was 370,018 or, what is the same, in just 5 years there has been an increase of 21%.

Commercial spaces have realized this trend and are increasingly permissive of pets. In the words of Augusto Lobo, JLL’s retail director, “those who have pets want to enjoy their free time with them and the market is aware of this need, given that this is also a public with purchasing power”. Therefore, it is not surprising that shops with a dog-friendly policy continue to grow.

More and more bars, restaurants and shops admit dogs and even adapt their gastronomic offer to the taste of our four-legged companions. Thus, for example, we find shops such as Snack Attack, in Valencia, which has devised a specific menu for dogs at the modest price of 2 euros.

And, although pet-friendly is mostly a trend at street level, there is no doubt that pet shops also boost the offer in shopping centres. Opening a shop dedicated to animal welfare acts as a showcase to teach consumers the latest in this product category. At the same time, more and more centres are allowing animals to enter.

One example is the X-Madrid shopping centre in Alcorcón, which was conceived with the idea of providing access to growing groups such as cyclists, skaters and people with pets. There is also the case of the Aragonia shopping centre in Zaragoza, which welcomes its human and non-human visitors with a huge statue of a dog, as a symbol of its pet-friendly spirit

Animals, also in the focus of the brands

Looking at the data and the trend it is not surprising that many brands have seen in animals their best allies to innovate in their customer loyalty strategy. “The profile of buyers is changing and retailers must adapt and look for other ways to relate to them, more in line with their habits and needs. We can see the adoption of the pet-friendly concept in a store as another way of creating a personalized and close shopping experience for the consumer”.

It is therefore not surprising that Primark has launched a line of pet clothing and boosted its sales, or that giants like H&M have created a line of dog coats. Even brands with a somewhat more distant target audience such as Ikea or Spotify have jumped on the bandwagon and launched animal-oriented products. The furniture and decoration brand has created a collection related to dog entertainment, while the music platform has created a podcast to alleviate the loneliness of our dogs while they are alone at home.

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