For pet parents who are getting stretched to the limit paying to keep Fido and Kitty healthy, Walmart is hanging out its first “pet services” shingle to help make pet expenses more reasonable.
The retailer’s first location is in Dallas Ga., right outside of Atlanta, where it will offer both veterinary care and grooming services.
The company says this notion has got some decent wind at its back. During the pandemic, pet ownership zoomed to the point where two-thirds of U.S. households now own a pet.
That means there are 23 million households that are expected to be spending $277 billion to take care of their pets by 2030. In normal times, this might not be a problem, but the price of pet products continues to rise faster than the rate of national inflation and many pet owners are feeling the brunt of the rising costs.
“We know that pet services are essential for pet parents, but for many, the experience can be costly and disjointed,” Walmart said in announcing the new services. “At Walmart, we have an opportunity to help our customers save precious money, time and effort by offering a destination for pet services at the same place they purchase their pet food and supplies.”
What pet owners can expect
Other locations may pop up quickly. Currently, Walmart offers in-store vet clinics at more than 65 stores across the U.S. Those stores are owned and operated by PetIQ, so it’s possible that the company and PetIQ could work together and expand the idea.
If Walmart uses its Dallas Ga., location as a template for other locations, consumers will find a dedicated storefront for the pets to enter through. That's because Walmart only allows service animals in the main section of its stores. There was no word whether or not there would be a Miniature Schnauzer wearing a little blue vest to greet pet owners at the store.
The company says that the services will be offered at Walmart’s Every Day Low Prices, including routine veterinary care (vaccines, wellness exams and minor medical services), grooming (baths, nail trims, teeth cleaning, ear cleaning and basic hair trims) and a self-serve dog wash. And for an even more seamless experience, a new online Pet Pharmacy experience is coming soon to Walmart.com and the Walmart app.
24/7 vet care
There are two more bones Walmart is adding to the service. The first one is that, for a limited time, members can take advantage of benefits like 24/7 virtual access to licensed veterinary professionals via text and video through a free one-year Pawp membership and save $30 off services by Rover, including dog walking, sitting and boarding.
The second is that its new subscription service offers the convenience of scheduling recurring delivery of pet-related purchases in advance.
“Based on our pilot testing, the pet category has been where customers have most eagerly embraced this convenience. Now, customers can easily subscribe to their pets' favorite food or treats, enjoying unmatched ease while taking advantage of the Every Day Low Prices they rely on,” the company said.