Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

from Raw Japan:

Pet love, vanity help firms survive recession

Japanese consumers are getting more penny-pinching by the day, and they're probably not going to be splashing out more freely anytime soon after wage earners' take-home pay logged the biggest drop on record in the year to June and people's summer bonuses took a hefty cut.

But no matter how bleak things get, there will always be some companies that shoppers -- however closely they're guarding their wallets -- don't hesitate to throw precious money at. 

One such is Unicharm Petcare, a Japanese maker of pet food and animal care products. Its dog and cat food products are selling so well that its operating profit leaped 42 percent in the April-June period, and it raised its forecast for the year to next March.

"Pets are part of the family, so pet owners are unlikely to cut back spending on them just because of a recession," a company official told me. They certainly are family, and it could be a case of "two legs good, four legs better" because while some family members have to put up with cheap beer-like drinks and outdated clothes, their furry relatives get fed "gourmet" food and other products specially tailored for obese or aged pets.

Homeless pets still need to eat


With foreclosures of homes on the rise, so are stories of pet abandonment, but pet food maker Del Monte says sales of dog and cat food and treats hasn’t been affected.

The New Haven Register in Connecticut reported on Nov. 23 of a dramatic rise in pet abandonment at shelters across the city, as adjustable mortgage rate resets make mortgages on many homes unaffordable, and rising food costs make paying for pet food and upkeep unrealistic.