Walmart to Open More Pet Clinics, Online Pet Pharmacy
Walmart announced this week that it's planning to open up dozens more in-store veterinary clinics as well as launch its first online pet pharmacy, hoping to lure more U.S. pet owners who are spending billions of dollars each year. Walmart currently operates 21 veterinary clinics in its stores across six states, but over the next 12 months it plans to grow that number to 100. It will start the expansion by opening nine new clinics in the Dallas-Fort Worth area later this month and into June. There, pets can receive vaccines, care for minor illnesses and other routine exams.
The online pet pharmacy, called WalmartPetRX.com, will offer low-cost prescriptions for dogs, cats, horses and livestock, from more than 300 brands. Customers of WalmartPetRX.com can also have their prescriptions delivered right to their doors with free two-day shipping on orders that cost more than $35. For those who prefer to fill their pet prescriptions in Walmart stores, later this month the retailer will stock its 4,500-plus pharmacies with the top 30 most requested pet medications.
Total Retail's Take: So, why is Walmart going to the dogs? That's where the money is. In fact, millennial dog owners, for example, spend up to $1,285 a year on their pet, with the majority of spend going towards veterinary care and vaccinations, food and supplies, according to TD Ameritrade's 2018 report, Millennials and Their Fur Babies. What's more, according to the American Pet Products Association, a record $72.5 billion was spent on pets in the U.S. last year, and spending will exceed $75.3 billion this year. The trade group has also reported that 68 percent of U.S. households own a pet. Other retailers are jumping at the opportunity to take a greater share of the billion-dollar pet market, too. In fact, some experts say WalmartPetRx.com is in direct competition with PetSmart’s e-commerce business, Chewy.com, which also has an online pharmacy unit. Chewy.com filed documents with regulators to prepare for an initial public offering last month, as its sales grew to $3.5 billion in fiscal 2018, up from $2.1 billion in 2017.