Chewy CEO says dog, cat adoption rates have remained high as the economy reopens

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As homebound Americans waited out the coronavirus pandemic last year, people increasingly turned to animal shelters and adopted dogs and cats as lockdown companions.

Though lockdowns have eased and the country has reopened, adoption rates have largely kept shape, according to Sumit Singh, CEO of Chewy.

“Overall adoptions, we believe, [are] up still year over year by double-digit percentages both across dog and cat,” he told CNBC’s Jim Cramer Thursday.

Additionally, it does not look like pets are being returned to shelters in elevated numbers, said Singh, who appeared for an interview on “Mad Money.” Chewy, a $33 billion online pet food and supply store, last month launched a pet adoption service and is currently working with 6,000 shelters, he noted.

“The pets coming back into the shelters actually matches the rate that we were seeing in 2019, which actually would say that, when you balance out new adoptions and pets coming back, there’s still a whole lot more pets getting adopted right now, which is great for the industry.”

While Singh did not cite any statistics, online searches for pets remain elevated and the pet owner market has expanded greatly, based on research from Piper Sandler. The firm reports that searches for terms like “petfinder” and “puppies for sale” are up on a two-year basis, though it began tapering in April.

The pet products industry made $103.6 billion in sales in 2020, according to the American Pet Products Association. It’s the first time annual sales crossed the $100 billion mark, the trade group announced in March. The association projects that number to grow nearly 6% in 2021, which would exceed the historical average of about 3%.

After the close Thursday, Chewy reported results from its fiscal first quarter that ended May 2. The company’s revenues grew 31.7% to $2.14 billion from $1.62 billion a year ago. Results topped Wall Street’s estimates on the top and bottom lines.

Shares rose 2% during Thursday’s session to close at $79.35. The stock was down more than 1% in after-hour trading.

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