Demand for pet ownership has returned to similar levels experienced before the pandemic, according to new research from classified advertising website Pets4Homes.
As of December 2022, activity on the website was at a similar level to 2019, according to the organisation’s latest annual Industry Report. This represents two million weekly visitors to the site and around 80 potential buyers per advertised pet, compared to 420 during the peak days of the covid lockdown.
There has also been a 27% decline in demand compared with 2021, according to the report. As of November 2022, 3.3 million UK households searched for a pet on Pets4Homes, whereas the same period last year saw 3.7 million potential owners searching for a new companion.
The decline in demand has been reflected in occupancy at rescue centres, with 60% of centres reporting a decrease in pets being rehomed during the year. In 2022, 42% of rescue centres were at 100% occupancy, rising from 22% in 2019, with 26% of centres reporting that financial reasons are the most common reason for owners to give up a pet.
However, data from the website indicates that the increase of advertisements on Pets4Homes can be traced back to new litters rather that reselling, with adult dogs for sale – which constitutes the main proportion of resold pets – at similar levels in 2022 as in 2021.
Purchase prices for dogs and cats have both fallen, although average prices remain above pre-pandemic levels, while there has been an increase in licensed sellers on the website from 22.1% in December 2021 to 28% in 2022.
Goldendoodles were the most popular breed of 2022, with 1,800 viewers per advert, while flat-faced dogs such as pugs and French bulldogs have declined in popularity, according to the website data. Large dog breeds are the most likely to be given up for adoption, with German shepherds and Staffordshire bull terriers topping the list.
Pets4Homes UK managing director Lee Gibson said: “The ‘new normal’ is being embraced by many in the post-pandemic world. The days when every pet for sale instantly finds a new owner is over as the market has returned to a more normal balance between number of buyers and available pets.
“The cost of living crisis is putting further pressure on pet owners who face rising cost. A survey with users depicted that 8% of pet owners are considering giving up their pet, with one quarter (25%) of owners mentioning that they are unable to meet vet costs. Despite this, 80% of pet owners would place their pet first, despite the brunt of the cost of living crisis.”