New restrictions as Aussie pet owners panic buy
Exclusive: Australian pet owners have been panic buying items for their beloved animals as the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep people confined to their homes.
Petbarn has seen double-digit growth for prescription and restricted diet for dogs and cats across Greencross Vets and Petbarn Online since the first few phases of lockdown and social distancing were announced.
As CEO of Petbarn's parent company Greencross Limited, George Wahby told News Corp chicken food and poultry housing have seen growth in sales as more people buy chickens to lay their own eggs.
"We've sold 3500 tonnes of poultry food, the demand in last four weeks has been more than double," he said.
Mr Wahby said fresh and frozen food were also popular as well as reptile and fish food.
They have also seen an increase in sales for flea, tick and worm products, which is also bucking the winter trend.
He also said there has been a massive uptake in their new Zero Contact Click & Collect service which customers can do in an hour, compared to their home delivery option.
"As a result our team has responded really well, and we've put more team members in our customer service section to assist," he said.
"At our Greencross clinics we've also seen more pet parents coming in asking for more nutritional advice to make sure they're doing the right thing."
But he did say there were still delays with home delivery.
"There's an added delay of two to three days in certain instances, but it's across every sector, not just ours," he said.
Popular pet product websites including Pet Circle and Budget Pet Products have also seen unusual spikes and have temporarily suspended their phone support as staff now work from home to assist customers through live online chat and email.
Pet Circle Chief Marketing Officer Jon Wild told News Corp they have put a restriction on litter orders of one 30 kilo bag per customer.
"Litter continues to be in short supply across the market as people are stuck at home with their pets," he said.
He said they saw 100 per cent growth in the sale of premium and restricted pet foods and popular grocery food products like Dine and My Dog.
Order sizes also went up 30 per cent on average.
"Our customers are also now buying more treats and toys to occupy their pets while at home and they are noticing their behavioural and physical traits and are looking for solutions," he said.
But Mr Wild said their online only service and contact-free delivery option was seeing delivery times within the normal 2-3 day range.
"We've added more racking in our warehouse right to the roof and we are ensuring we've got capacity to meet increased demand," he said.
Budget Pet Products has seen a 150-200 per cent increase in pet food and prescription food as well as a 250-300 per cent increase in cat litter.
"Our warehouse is currently open for extended hours, working weekends and hired additional staff (including some who have lost their job due to the COVID-19 crisis) to deal with demand," Marketing Manager Jacqui Carrigan said.
"We have seen a significant change in shopping habits with a large increase in new shoppers, we suspect people shopping online as supermarkets and other retailers are not able to service their needs."
'WE'RE BUYING TWO MONTHS AHEAD'
Dog lover Jess Mitchell and her partner Luke Jones have started buying food for her three dogs at least two months in advance.
Ms Mitchell, who has two Border Collies Levi, 7, and Stella, 1, and a labrador named Sammy, 7, in Kedron, Queensland, told News Corp she usually just buys more food when they run out.
"We usually go and get something the next day but we are worried things may shut or stores may run out of food," she said.
"The dogs eat a premium dog food (brand) and I don't want them to be eating something else they aren't used to.
"I have also picked up some canned food too as a back up.
"We are not crazily hoarding food but it's different to how we used to live."
Ms Mitchell said they haven't bought more flea, tick and worm products as they are usually given in a three or six month period.
But they have bought some extra treats, and still walk them twice a day as they need the exercise.
"It's upsetting they have shut the dog parks ... we can only walk them on the lead through the streets," she said.
Originally published as New restrictions as Aussie pet owners panic buy