As retailers expand pet aisles, they increase the number of stockkeeping units devoted to the care of smaller animals, such as guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, gerbils and even the more exotic ferrets and chinchillas, which are gaining in popularity as household pets.
ACNielsen data shows that, in supermarkets, gerbil and hamster items increased sales by a whopping 101.4%, reaching $40,403 during the 52-week period ended April 30.
Also during the period, $949,456 worth of ferret products were sold, an increase in sales of 47.7%, while guinea pig and rabbit products generated $353,933, reflecting a 33.6% increase from the prior year.
Price Chopper in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., incorporates products for birds, fish, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and rabbits into its pet aisle.
At Waldbaum's in College Point, Queens, N.Y., about 15 feet in the pet aisle is devoted to "other" pet foods and items, such as pet stain and odor remover, flea and tick preventatives, shampoos, fish food, bird seed, a hamster maze, and one Secondnature Purina dog-litter pan that offered a $3 rebate off two bags of litter -- but it carried no price and SN couldn't find any dog litter during a recent visit.