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Economic downturn no cause for concern for pet industry executive

Royal Pets Market & Resort founder and CEO Denise Wolin is more worried about the effects of another wave of COVID infections.

  • By Brian Hartz
  • | 5:20 p.m. August 18, 2022
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
  • Travel-Tourism
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Denise Wolin, the founder and CEO of Royal Pets Market & Resort, has the luxury of operating in what she considers a recession-resistant business. “Where other industries decline,” she says, “the pet industry actually increases.”

That’s not hyperbole. The U.S. pet industry’s growth has been remarkably robust and consistent over time: According to the American Pet Products Association, sales grew from $90.5 billion in 2018 to $97.1 billion in 2019, an increase of nearly 7.3%; from 2019 to 2020, revenue jumped by more than 6.6%, from $97.1 billion to $103.6 billion.

The pandemic accelerated growth even further, with sales surging from $103.6 billion in 2020 to $123.6 billion in 2021 — an increase of 19.3%.

Much like PetSmart, where Wolin served as a longtime executive, Royal Pets combines a retail pet store with veterinary services, but it also offers a high-end pet “hotel” for dogs and cats to stay in while their owners are away. The latter service tracks with the broader societal trend of pets being viewed and treated as family members instead of possessions.

Royal Pets recently opened its fourth store, in the Midtown Tampa mixed-use development, and despite economic uncertainty, Wolin has no plans to put the brakes on expansion plans, targeting Naples, Sarasota and The Villages for new Royal Pets locations.

“The industry is resilient,” she says. “We don’t feel the impact that other businesses do. COVID hurt us because we had to close, but outside of that, my stores are back to performing at 2019 levels. I’m more concerned about another wave of COVID. I see associates now, more than ever, getting it for a second time, because in a service business, the team is No. 1.”



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