JSE-listed EPP is leading new lifestyle trends with pet-friendly malls
Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed EPP (JSE: EPP), Poland’s biggest retail landlord, is responding to the global rise in pet ownership and the needs of its pet-owning customers by welcoming pets at the company’s shopping centres.
There has been a pandemic pet boom lately. The world is seeing a significant increase in the adoption of dogs and cats especially since COVID-19 forced us to spend more time at home. It was even recognised by TIME Magazine which chose rescue animals as its 2020 “pet of the year”. The spike in pet adoptions symbolises the compassion and companionship strongly desired during a time of isolation. Young couples, empty nesters and single professionals – primarily Millennials and Generation Z – are driving the rise in pet ownership. This new animal-loving lifestyle requires the world to adapt to modern changes. And the largest owner of Polish retail assets EPP is adjusting perfectly, leading the way in pet-friendly shopping.
To meet the needs of pet owners who have no ability or no wish to leave their pupils alone while shopping, EPP decided to allow customers with small animals to visit their shopping centres. Currently, pets are welcome at 17 of retail assets managed by the company and shoppers already willingly use this privilege.
“We want our shopping centres to be modern places, catering to the needs of a wide range of customers, including those who want to visit with their pets. We are giving them the opportunity to bring pets into the shopping centres on condition that they comply with a few simple rules that take care of the comfort and safety of animals and other visitors alike,” said Tomasz Trzósło, CEO of EPP.
Dogs, cats and other pets accompanying their owners can visit EPP’s malls’ common areas and food courts, where they will find plenty of drinking water. Animals can even go inside certain retailers’ shops displaying EPP’s “Pets are Welcome” paw stickers on their windows.
The initiative also respects the rights of other shoppers. To enjoy a fun and safe day of shopping, pets should be supervised by their owners at all times. Dogs should be leashed and muzzled and kept at a safe distance from others. Small animals can also be carried in a special container, bag or carrier. To ensure the highest level of comfort for all shoppers, pet owners must clean up after their animals and are responsible for the behaviour of their pets.
The pet economy is thriving worldwide. The new pet-friendly lifestyle is having a positive impact on retail, being a stimulus for the industry and driving people to stores. Bloomberg reports that the bottom lines of animal health companies are enjoying a massive boost. Locally, Flux Trends reports that South Africans already spend between R300m and R600m on pet food per year. PayFast recently revealed that stores catering for pet supplies were among the fastest new growth industries online during the pandemic, growing by over 1,000%. Checkers piloted its first stand-alone pet store – Petshop Science – in Cape Town this year. Even pharmacy chain Dis-Chem has added a growing selection of pet food, toys and accessories to its shelves. Pet spend is set to continue to grow. Animals adopted now will live at least 10-plus years, which will have a meaningful impact on the spending and lifestyle of families for a decade or longer.
Understanding this new trend is a must. Today’s younger consumers don’t only spend more money on their pets but also spend more time with their pets. Most see their four-legged friends as an integral part of the family. For most pet owners, enjoying a day out without their companion is simply out of the question. Yet, pets are not permitted at many locations that families typically enjoy meeting and spending time together. Luckily, there are already places, like EPP’s shopping centres, where everyone is welcome and can feel at home.