In 2011, households spent more on their pets annually than they spent on alcohol.
Americans are a breed apart when it comes to spending on their pets, according to consumer spending trends released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average American household spends just over $500 annually on their animal companions. This represents about 1 percent of household expenditures.
If that seems like a lot, consider that there are a lot of pets out there. Nearly three-fourths of U.S. households own pets, the BLS finds. Three are about 218 million pets in the United States. This does not include the millions of fish.
In total, Americans spent approximately $61.4 billion on their pets in 2011. Households spent more on their pets annually than they did on alcohol, ($456), residential landline phone bills $381) or men and boys clothing (404), according to BLS consumer spending trends.
The average household spending on pet food alone was $183 in 2011, more than what was spend on candy ($87), bread ($107), chicken ($124), cereal ($175), or reading materials ($115). While spending at restaurants dropped the the 2007-2009 recession, spending on pet food remained constant.
Who can pets most rely on to lavish money on them? Predictably, the amount households spends on pets rises with income. Additionally, according to the BLS, married couples without children living at home spent the most on their pets in 2011, while homeowners spent almost three times as much on their pets as renters. A single person living alone spend the least.
Related story: Consumer spending trends: Dog owners vs. cat owners. Click here to read more.
Between 2007 and 2011, families continued to spend consistently on their pets, within a narrow range of 0.9 to 1.1 percent of total spending. The greatest year-over-year variances were seen in the purchase of pet supplies and medicine and veterinarian services.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.