Very important news for anyone whose furry, feathered, scaled, or gilled friend is the center of their world: Walmart's website has a “Gifts For Pets” Valentine’s Day section this year. I know, I know; pets have no concept of what holidays are in general, let alone what Valentine’s Day is in particular. But they do know love, and they do know fun, and, I mean… what’s more fun than watching your pet buddy get super excited about a new toy or treat? Not much, is the answer. I can, therefore very much get behind a Valentine’s Day pet gift shop. Heck yes.
It’s not unusual for online stores to create curated sections around gift-giving holidays geared towards specific types of recipients — kids, partners, besties, and the like. But depending on, y’know, the individuals for whom you’re shopping, these sections may be hit or miss. Pets, though? Pets are usually quite easy to please; they may have preferences from time to time (my cats definitely both have favorite toys), but generally, most of them find New Things! to be super exciting, no matter what the New Thing! actually is. As such, it’s kind of surprising to me that curated gift sections specifically for pets are somewhat rare.
Not so for Walmart, though. In addition to both a general Gifts For Pets section and a Christmas-themed Gift For Pets section that was up and running back towards the end of the year, there’s now a Gift For Pets Valentine’s Day shop on the retailer’s website. It’s easy to find, too; all you have to do is navigate to the main Walmart Valentine’s Day landing page and click on “Gifts For Pets” once you get there.
The main Valentine’s Day page can be located in two different ways: You can either just click on the big Valentine’s Day banner that’s currently at the top of the homepage, or you can type “Valentine’s Day” into the search bar and hit enter to be taken directly to it. The top of the Valentine’s Day page itself looks like this (annotations by yours truly):
And, hey, wouldn’t you know it? There it is: “Gifts For Pets.” Voila.
The actual pet gift selection is pretty standard; it’s mostly just toys, treats, and pet clothing, most of which is meant for cats and dogs. I still appreciate that this section exists, though, because… well, what pet owner doesn’t love showering their animal pals with love, affection, and new stuff?
Pet gifting is big business — and it’s no wonder, given that so many people consider their pets to be members of their family. In fact, according to the 2015 Harris Poll, nearly all Americans who have pets — 95 percent — are of the “pets are family” persuasion. Fewer tend to buy their pets gifts on particular occasions; however, the numbers are still impressive: 52 percent of dog owners and 40 percent of cat owners said they’d bought their pets birthday presents, while 70 percent of dog owners and 61 percent of cat owners said they’d bought holiday gifts for their furry pals.
(I can only assume that the lower percentage of gift-giving cat owners is due to the fact that most cat owners know that their pets are usually more interested in the box their toys come in than the toys themselves.)
Valentine’s Day tends to be a surprisingly lucrative pet gift giving holiday, too. In 2018, the National Retail Federation predicted that, of the $19.6 billion Americans were expected to spend on Valentine’s Day that year, $751 million would be spent on pets — which, for reference, was higher than what people planned to spend on their coworkers ($654 million, for the curious). The 2019 predictions haven’t been released yet, but the figures will likely be somewhat similar, if not higher; the trend usually goes up. In 2017, for example, the overall prediction was $18.2 billion. The highest it’s ever been was $19.7 billion in 2016.
No word yet on what percentage of the 2019 Valentine's Day pet budget we can expect to go specifically towards unicorn dog PJs.
Regardless, though, this year, why not get your animal bestie a little Valentine’s Day treat? They’ll love it. You’ll love it. Everybody wins. Hoorah!