One of the few bright spots of 2020 has been a seeming increase in pet adoptions, as people sheltered at home during the pandemic. Market experts have even credited an adoption boom with helping raise sales of pet food and other pet supplies.

But, is the adoption surge real? In “Pet Industry Overview: Fall 2020” from investment firm Cascadia Capital, Managing Director Bryan Jaffe shared data from PetPoint showing that, through September 2020, dog and cat adoptions were down year-over-year by 25% overall, with a similar decline for dogs and cats entering shelters. What have risen are pet fostering rates, up 8% overall. The data is sourced from 1,200 animal welfare organizations, Jaffe wrote.

Thus, while consumer surveys from Packaged Facts and others reported 8% of respondents adopting a pet this year specifically due to COVID-19 and 10% of current U.S. pet owners acquiring another pet during the initial phase, it may be misleading to interpret that as a boost to pet product sales

“Don’t buy all the COVID-19 adoption hype,” Jaffe cautioned. “While many shelters may be empty, constraints in movement for both intakes and outcomes over a long enough period does not allow for population growth.” He added that private sales and adoptions factor in, but not sufficiently enough to bridge the gap in pet population.

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