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Despite the forecasted increase in spending on pets by American consumers, experts are seeing cut backs in the amount spent on pets over the past three years.

The American Pet Products Association estimates Americans will spend approximately $50.84 billion dollars on pets in 2011, which is an increase from $48.35 billion in 2010 and $38.50 billion in 2006.  The pet group’s previous president, Bob Vetere, believes people turn to their pets when other woes (financial, world affairs, et al.,) take hold.

Vetere stated, “People find comfort in pets. It’s someone who listens to your problems, then licks your face and says, ‘Let’s go play.’ ”

In the Richmond, Virginia, area, some pet industry storeowners have been hit by economic hard times. Michael Hughes, of Holiday Barn Pet Resorts, said two of his locations lost a percentage of business while other parts of the operation made up for it. “People sometimes were preserving their week of vacation in the summer but cutting out that three-day trip to the mountains or to D.C. with friends,” he said.

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) collected data and found an estimated 86.4 million cats and 78.2 million dogs live in American homes. These numbers do not include horses and smaller pets.

Americans love to pamper their pets (aka: “kids”) even with personal cutbacks in their own nights out and in personal spending. Baby boomers make up the largest percentage of new pet owners, Vetere reported.

Other businesses in the Richmond area, such as For the Love of Pete, are seeing people come to the store and gain a sense of pleasure in pampering their pets.

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