Spring Festival rush boosted business for pet service companies

Global Business

Photo: VCG

The annual Spring Festival travel rush doesn’t just mean going home for China’s ever-increasing number of pet owners. What does one do with his furry friends while going on vacation It turns out booking holiday space for pets can be just as big a job as buying tickets and getting through the throngs of travelers. 

Lin has had his Corgi Frenchie for half a year. He says Frenchie cost him 600-700 yuan, or around $100, per month on average, for food and routine grooming.
But since he has plans to travel abroad with family for the holidays, he will have to leave Frenchie behind for at least two weeks. Finding a room for the little friend hasn’t been easy, and it won’t be cheap. And the cost went up even more during the Spring Festival holiday — when he had to leave Frenchie behind for at least two weeks. Finding a room for him wasn’t easy — and not cheap.

“We will send him to a pet shop nearby for the holiday. That will cost 140 yuan per day, or 20 US dollars, and we need to provide the food and toys, and cover any extra costs if he gets sick,” Lin said.

A China Pet Industry White Paper says the pet market was worth 170 billion yuan, or $25 billion, in 2018, an increase of 27 percent from a year earlier, so it’s hardly surprising the holiday pet hotels are in big demand. Hou Lili has been in the business for five years and says there are mainly three ways to take care of pets when the owners are away — sending them to pet care shops, to friends, or booking visiting services. Most people go with the first two given that visiting services are still new to the market here. Hou says the demand for pet care has grown so much that she’s opening a new shop for around 30 pets every Spring Festival. And she says pet owners are now more willing to spend a good deal of money on their little friends. 

“This shop has been open for two years and so far we’re doing alright. Our main cost is pet food, particularly foreign food which is more expensive than domestic. But we profit from providing services like pet baths,” Hou said.

Ms. Hou said that with the flourishing pet market, she is considering adding other types of services — studio portraits, specialized medical care, and pet insurance. She’s far from the only one considering an expansion of her business. According to Pintu, a business commentary portal, there are now between 60,000 and 80,000 pet shops nationwide, and most of them are looking for cooperative deals with veterinarians, insurance companies, and other specialized service providers.