Younger pet owners plan to spend less, lose pets in 2022

Compared to Gen X and baby boomers, younger pet owners worry more that they may need to spend less on pet food and treats in 2022 or change to a cheaper brand. In a November 2021 survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), distinct generational differences arose related to economic issues.

Since early in the pandemic, APPA has surveyed U.S. pet owners about how COVID-19 influenced pet ownership. The percentage of millennials and Gen Z that are concerned how finances will affect their pet expenditures rose in the last survey. That survey was conducted in November 2021 and is detailed in the APPA report “COVID-19 Pulse Study: Pet Ownership During the Pandemic.”

“Gen Z and millennials report 38% and 37%, respectively are worried about the expense of having a pet during COVID-19,” the report’s authors wrote. “The same is true for only 22% of Gen X and just 8% of baby boomers.”

That percentage increased for Gen Z and millennials from 24% and 29% respectively in December 2020, numbers that had remained within a few percentage points since the onset of the pandemic. 

Millennials and Generation Z may give up pets 

What’s more, in the latest survey, Gen Z and millennial pet owners dramatically increased their concerns that they will need to give up a pet because of the pandemic. In all age groups during 2020, fewer than 20% of respondents thought they might need to give up a pet. However, by November 2021, the Gen Z and millennial groups had more than doubled. In May 2020, 16% of millennials agreed with the statement, “I may have to give up my pet due to COVID-19,” and 14% of Gen Z. In the most recent survey, 30% of Gen Z and 27% of millennials agreed. 

APPA analysts didn’t discuss what may be causing this generational divide. Younger pet owners may be more likely to work in jobs that require one’s physical presence in a facility. Similarly, they may have lower income than older demographic groups.

Despite the difference among age groups and concerns among younger pet owners, in the November 2021 APPA survey, 30% of pet owners stated that they had spend more on pets in the past month. Thirteen percent said they had spent less, while 57% spent the same.

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