US spends more on pets than beer, movies

Overall Americans spent $61.4 billion on their pets, almost twice as much as global spending on movie tickets last year.

By MSN Money Partner May 21, 2013 9:42AM

QuartzBy Vickie Elmer, Quartz


The most pampered American pets live with baby boomers and childless couples, and single pet owners and single parents are more likely to skimp on kitty and doggy spending.


Image: Man with dog © VStock LLC, Tanya Constantine, Tetra images, Getty ImagesOwners most likely to buy for dogs (say, little booties on Buddy) are ages 55 to 64, and couples without children, a new analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows. They spend hundreds of dollars more than those in their 20s and 30s.


Overall, Americans spend about $500 on average, or 1% of their annual budget on their pets. That means they drop more dollars on pet supplies than on beer, vodka and other alcohol. They spend more on pets than on men's and boy's clothing.


And the actual spending of U.S. pet owners may be much higher than this report indicates because all those who live without animals at home are averaged in as zero. And even people without pets are still buying, since items like birdseed fall into the pet food category, notes BLS economist and report author Steve Henderson.


"My parents haven't wanted pets for 20 years," Henderson says. "They're spending copious amounts on bird seed."


Overall Americans spent $61.4 billion on their pets, almost twice as much as global spending on movie tickets last year.


Surprisingly, rural pet owners bought a lot more for their pets, laying out $716 a year -- 48% more than central cities owners. One explanation: Urban households spent more on health clubs, movie tickets and sporting events, and other entertainment options, while those are less available in the country.


Henderson doesn't have the data to prove it, but he believes rural residents much higher spending on pet food indicates they own more dogs and cats—or feed more anyway. He lives in rural Maryland and "people drop off pets out here," he said. "We have a changing number of cats that we feed." (He currently has five felines.)


Oddly, more people are bypassing the veterinarian, with one-fourth of pet owners skipping a visit in 2011, according to the US Pet Ownership & Demographics SourcebookDogs are more likely to be taken to the veterinarian than cats.


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May 22, 2013 5:13AM
My Lab has saved my life at least twice by chasing away a wild (probally rabid) animal once and once alerting me to a coral snake I was just about to step on during our morning walk.  Not to mention all the companship and love.  WELL worth the cost of feeding and vet bills.
May 21, 2013 12:07PM
MSNBC tells us there is no inflation. Have you brought beer and dog food lately?
May 22, 2013 7:27AM
"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace."
- Milan Kundera
May 22, 2013 5:49AM

Love my pets, only time I didn't have them 24/7 was when I was in college and living in rentals. First home I bought, I had a pet within 60 days.

May 22, 2013 5:46AM
Now I know that my spending on my cat is about average.  She is worth it.  And she never argues about money.
May 22, 2013 12:21PM
I dispute that Americans spend 61 billion on pets annually.  Last year, I only spent 9 billion on my pet parakeet.
May 22, 2013 7:43AM

"How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."
- Abraham Lincoln

(a.k.a Honest Abe) 



May 22, 2013 6:58AM
I have my 3rd hamster now. My first two had medical issues and did not live past 6 months. I even paid$110.00 so that my "Sweetie Pie" could have surgery. She did not recover. I was so upset. Honey Bear was my first hamster but she died after having a digestive problem. I am not giving up!  Baby Girl is doing fine! She is so cute and loves to cuddle under my neck. I do spoil her by buying treats, toys and the best accessories for her cage. She is just right for me because at age 62, I have artritis and cannot take care of a larger pet. People do not rule out Hamsters! They are wonderful pets and have their own cute personalities!    I DO LOVE ALL ANIMALS!
May 22, 2013 6:31AM

I due how ever agree the price of dog food more then double within the last years

May 21, 2013 7:08PM
Pet items are pricey as hell and beer is cheap! Who sees movies these days anyway?
May 22, 2013 6:58AM
It can cost up to a 1,000 $ a year now for a Dog and a Cat runs 800 $ year that not adding in the VET bill.I know several senior citizens who have 3-4 dogs and cats But can't afford their Medical Bills or Medicine they need.They say a Vet now makes more than a Doctor and Medicine cost twice as much for the Pets.This was on a show about the people and why there POOR.
May 22, 2013 6:29AM
My 2 daughters my dogs they are my life they are always here for me they keep me company and one of then my old one is alert to all around me i will spend what ever there is not tag price for this wonderful companions     JULIO CESAR from LAS VEGAS NV
May 22, 2013 10:14AM
These people are supposed animal lovers and yet ....  And yet they also participate in the suffering of billions of animals.  If you eat an animal who was part of the "factory farm" system, you are responsible for the conditions of their lives.  You are responsible for chickens living extremely short lives (each hen in an area the size of a sheet of paper and stands on wire) while they produce your morning eggs.  You are responsible for "dairy" calves being ripped away from their mothers when they are a day or two old and being chained in a crate with little food or water (to keep their "meat" tender) before being loaded on a killers truck so you can have ice cream. You are responsible for "meat" animals being crammed onto trucks and shipped for days with no food, water, or a chance to move about or sleep so you can add bacon to your cheeseburger.  You are responsible for that dairy cow having the life sucked out of her by the age of 5-7 yrs and being sent to the killers for your hamburgers.  Do not bring out your specious arguments about how other animals eat animals and its all part of the food chain or what would happen to all those animals if we didn't eat them. Do not try to justify your complicity saying that you feed animals to your pet. Its been proven over and over, ad nauseum, that our bodies are designed to be herbivores and that we don't need to eat animals to survive. We eat them, allow them to be abused, raise them in unimaginable numbers and horrific conditions, and for what -- because they TASTE GOOD????  People! Get your head out of your rectums and think about what you're doing! If you don't love animals, I don't have words for you. If you love animals, then LOVE THEM!
May 22, 2013 8:03AM
I had a dog that alerted me to my daughter's (who was then a toddler) grand mal seizure.  That old dog was dumber than a bag of hammers but he came into the kitchen and barked at me until I followed him into my daughters' room, then he sat there and barked at the crib.  Turns out she was having an allergic reaction to a vaccine.

You can't put a pricetag on that.  Dogs are more loyal than most people.
May 22, 2013 7:54AM
Of course we are spending that much ! The corporations have figured out that we love our pets too and will also charge us out the a** in order for us to feed them !
May 22, 2013 7:50AM
"How's it going Mr. Peterson?"
- Woody
"It's a dog eat dog world, Woody, and I'm wearing milk bone underwear."
- Norm from Cheers
May 22, 2013 7:16AM

Spend my hard earned money on Hollywood or my dog....hmmm......go fetch!

May 22, 2013 7:59AM
Only in America, the rest of the World growls at us for are arrogance with pets.  Truly a luxury because almost anywhere else, Dog & Cat are a great Dinner.
May 22, 2013 6:37AM
No wonder our economy sucks!  We are all idiots wasting money on our pets!
May 21, 2013 7:06PM
What a stupid F'n story!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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