Pet Shop Profits

Pet Shop Profits

Costumes, wearable accessories for four-legged friends are here to stay

According to the 2011-2012 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 62 percent of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 72.9 millions homes. And considering the National Retail Federation projected Americans spent $370 million on pet costumes for Halloween last year, it’s no surprise that this is becoming a rapidly-growing profit segment for retailers year round.

Answering the call — or the bark — to help supply shoppers in this niche, Rubie’s Costume Co. recently launched Rubie’s Pet Shop Boutique, a line of costumes and accessories for furry friends. Party & Paper Retailer talked to Erin Breig, sales and product development for Rubie’s, about this new line and why retailers should be aware of these wearables.

PPR: Why do you think there has been such an increase in consumer spending when it comes to pet costumes and clothes?
EB: This high spending is evident not just with pet apparel but with gourmet pet foods, lavish pet bakeries, fancy grooming parlors, upscale pet hotels and high fashion pet boutiques. Think about a parent or grandparent shopping for a baby’s Halloween costume. When it comes to our “babies” — which for many Americans include pets — we aren’t afraid to splurge a little bit. Nowadays, pet owners are paying more attention to the quality and style of pet apparel, and the bottom line is that we truly love our pets as family members, so we don’t think twice about spoiling them and including them in our family activities.
PPR: How long has Rubie’s been offering pet costumes/accessories and how have your offerings expanded in recent months/years?
EB: Rubie’s has offered pet costumes for decades, and there are some styles that have almost always sold well for us — namely Yoda, Darth Vader and an adorable tuxedo set we call “Dapper Dog.” Because pets are such a huge industry — the pet industry brought in more than $53 billion in 2012, with $370 million spent on pet costume specifically — we decided it was time to refresh and update our selection for pets so that we can offer the consumer the biggest and best selection of pet costumes and accessories this Halloween and year round.
PPR: What have you found to be the trends and most popular items?
EB: The latest trend for pets is accessories such as hats, wings, tutus, bowties and wigs. Accessories make a great impulse buy, and just like their owners pets can now mix and match to create their own unique look. Licensed pet costumes continue to be very popular for Rubie’s, with Superman and Supergirl being some of the customer favorites for 2013. The number one item that we introduced this year, however, is the plush Hot Dog costume.
PPR: Many retailers don’t carry pet costumes and accessories. Why should they include them in the mix?
EB: If you sell Halloween, you know that the top licenses are a must have. You will sell everything from infant costumes all the way up to plus size, but many times retailers forget about the pet costume, and you have to cover the whole family.
PPR: How would you suggest they display and merchandise these items, both at Halloween and year round (especially at Halloween)?
EB: Pet costumes and accessories will sell better when the presence is noticeable — location is key because for many consumers, it’s an impulse buy. I also think stores need to have enough product to make a statement. Rubie’s is offering retail displays and signage to help enhance sales. The adorable photography is a real eye-catcher.
During Halloween, it’s all about matching the pet’s costume with the owner’s. I love the idea of a “Wizard of Oz” group where the dog dresses up as the Winged Monkey, for example.

Year round, consumers are looking for accessories and costumes for themed parties, events, holidays and parades. Christmas pictures are extremely popular and there are also plenty of pets dressing up for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, Easter, Cinco De Mayo, New Years Eve and various Patriotic Holidays — that makes way for plenty of photo opps!
PPR: What can we expect from Rubie’s in terms of new pet wearables and accessories in the future?
EB: This year we introduced a full line for Halloween and a smaller selection for Christmas. You can expect a lot of accessories for every day pet dress up as well as various other holidays. We also plan on introducing many more new licensed pet costumes next year. Stay tuned!
By Abby Heugel
Managing Editor

Originally posted Tuesday, Jun. 4, 2013

Tags: rubie's costume co.