retail report/with poll: Is Halloween going to the dogs (and cats)? Pet costumes flying off the shelves this year
There are plenty of questions I have as a new dog owner: Which pet food should I be buying? Can I bell train my dog for potty breaks? What is the most effective way to minimize barking? And perhaps the most time sensitive: Should my dog have a costume for Halloween?
Pet costumes have seen a steady increase in popularity in Ann Arbor and around the U.S. News sources ask patrons to send in pictures of their cutely costumed companion, pet stores offer costume contests, and people who see their pets as part of the family want their four-legged children to share in the fun of Halloween.
In reality, I know my 9-pound spirited-yet-timid Miniature Pinscher Roo will likely be barking from the back room for much of Halloween night, no costume needed. But while shopping, there are a few that do catch my eye. Who doesn’t smile at a hot dog?
image via google shop
Both my dog and my 4-year-old son are fascinated by sharks -- chasing stuffed ones and reading about vicious ones, respectively. If my son is a shark for Halloween, wouldn't it be amusing if boy’s best friend was the same?
image via ebay
And what’s not to love about a Scottish Carrier?
Or imagine the political comments she’d be making as Mutt Romney or Bark Obama.
Halloween costumes have become big business for retailers, and predictions are showing an increase in pet costume spending this year. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend an estimated $370 million on Halloween pet purchases. That is up by $40 million from last year.
“Americans in general don’t want to skimp on their pets — if the family is dressing up for the evening, they want to make sure all family members get in on the fun,” according to spokesperson for the federation, Kathy Grannis. Consumer anthropologist Robbie Blinkoff explains another reason for the trend. "People are dying to get dressed up themselves, but many lack the confidence. We dress up our pets, who are a symbolic extension of ourselves."
Pet costumes range in price from about $7 to $25 according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The report goes on to say that the most popular pet costume in the Midwest is a frog.
Ann Arbor dog trainer and Petco employee Kelly Ralko says she would not agree. “We do not even sell a frog costume. I think the hot dog is the most popular.”
The San Diego-based retailer offers a wide selection of pet costumes, and the local Petco is sponsoring a costume contest on October 27 at 2 p.m. Ralko will be judging and hopes to see some creative and even some handmade costumes this weekend. “People have been hush-hush about their plans. They want it to be a surprise and can’t wait to show off their pet.”
But there are people who frown upon the practice of pet costuming. It's easy to scoff at the exorbitant spending, or criticize pet owners for not thinking about the stress or hazards involved with some costumes. Both the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals warn that ill-fitting costumes as well as those that constrict movement or have small chewable parts can be a danger. But if pet safety and comfort remain at the forefront of the costume decision, risks are minimal.
So will you be costuming your dog this Halloween?