Pet products emerge as retailer's best friend

Chicago -- Here is a statistic that is raising optimism within the True Value pet department: 72% of pet owners consider their pet a member of their family. And what's more, 70% of dog owners think their dog understands how they are feeling better than most people do.

It's no secret that home owners love their pets, but the category is attractive to independent hardware stores for more retail-centric reasons, according to panelists on a True Value seminar here at the co-op's 2013 Fall Reunion.

The average pet owner spends $630 on pet food per year, said Bill Hancox, director of marketing insights and analytics for Chicago-based True Value. Pet sales across retail have grown at a clip of about 3% per year, even through a major recession. And no single retail channel dominates the pet market.

"There's no reason that our stores can't get their share of this business," Hancox said during the presentation titled "How Pet Can Be a Winning Business for You" here at the co-op's 2013 Fall Reunion.

Pet is a growing part of the overall business at Kruegers True Value in Neenah, Wis., according to fifth-gen