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These three cats cannot leave a kitten behind.

USA TODAY

Technically, it’s National Funeral Day.

But it’s more like the Year of the National Day.

With millions of Americans working from home or simply spending more time there because of the pandemic, they spend more time with pets than usual – not so their cats can be bothered.

(We, cat lovers, agree.)

According to a new LendingTree survey, more than a third, or 34%, of pet owners have increased their pet-related spending since the pandemic started. Only 17% spend less, while the rest spend the same.

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Don’t talk to cats, but the boom includes a huge increase in spending on dogs.

However, as the economy recession, some Americans are struggling to pay the cost of owning a pet.

According to the American Humanitarian Association, an estimated 10 million pets could be displaced in the coming months because renters are at risk of being evicted during a pandemic, according to the United States Humane Association. States.

And many Americans are in debt to pay for their pets. A LendingTree survey conducted in September found that 47% of pet owners were indebted to spending on pets, up from 36% in 2019.

However, despite financial difficulties, about 46% of all Americans are considering buying a pet. And among Americans who were fired or lost their jobs during the pandemic, that figure was 69%.

As a result, pet stores are changing, as consumers increasingly buy pet goods online over the years.

PetSmart, the nation’s largest pet store chain, raised prices at a time when it was very essential.

S&P Global Ratings increased the retailer’s credit outlook from steady to positive on September 28, signaling that a credit rating hike could follow. Agencies like S&P often increase credit ratings as companies improve their financial health.

In the case of PetSmart, the retailer reported that sales in the second quarter grew by 10.6% at stores that have been open for at least a year. That comes after a 0.2% drop in the same period in 2019.

PetSmart’s online business, known as Chewy, does even better. Chewy’s revenue grew 46% in the second quarter.

Analysts at S&P Global Ratings wrote in the report: “We believe that the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in an increase in pet ownership as well as a reallocation of discretionary spending by consumers on activities. family-related shopping, including buying pets and staying away from travel and food “on PetSmart.

This is a good time for PetSmart, which has the most debt any retailer has to pay until 2022, according to a Moody’s Investor Service report published in March. The retailer is ready to pay 4 , $ 2 billion in that period, even head JC Penney, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May.

According to S&P, increased sales are helping PetSmart pay debts at a fast rate.

To be sure, questions about how long the pandemic will last and the pet owners’ response will continue to drag on. The S&P also noted that the federal government’s spring stimulus could temporarily boost spending on pets, as millions of Americans receive one-off checks or increase unemployment insurance.

“The path of the pandemic is still uncertain and could lead to changes in discretionary spending of consumers, which negatively affect PetSmart’s operations,” said S&P.

Contribution: Brent Schrotenboer

Follow USA TODAY correspondent Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

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