The current number of households with a pet in the UK stands at 41%, so already it’s easy to see why the market for pet accessories is thriving. It may be less than half the population, but factors to consider are the number of pets in the home (I for example currently have six cats in my residence, only two of which are my own) and the uses for the accessories available. The main reasons for the booming market are:

Practicality

Animals need food; food will probably be served in their own bowls to avoid mixing pet food with human food; therefore there is a range of options for food bowls on the market. As well as this, most owners equip their pets with collars, either for the means of attaching an ID tag in case the animal gets lost, or bells to avoid cats hunting birds if they go outside. Dogs especially come in a range of sizes to fit the various dog breeds out there and often start from puppy-friendly collars. Accessories such as carriers are also important too, when it’s time for me to take my cats to the vet for a check-up, it’s essential that I choose a good cat carrier for each of them. Too small and they become unhappy and cramped, a soft carrier means that they feel less secure, so my go-to is a sturdy box with handles so I can easily carry them to and from the places they need to be. However, every pet is different, and the range of options on the market is to ensure that pets feel safe and secure in whichever carrier their owner chooses.

Health

I’ve already mentioned food bowls, however, the options for them can range from standard versions to models designed to help with health. For example, raised feeders for pets with stomach or digestion issues. In the same vein, flea collars are easily found too, which help deter fleas and ticks from biting an animal. Pet toothbrushes are also available on the market. As humans, it’s important to look after your pet’s oral health and often products such as Dentistix or other dental-based treats don’t suffice. Paired with toothbrushes is toothpaste, designed to be pet-friendly and flavored so that animals will more easily allow tooth brushing.

Comfort

Due to the many shapes and sizes, pets can come in, there are many different types of beds to keep your pet happy, such as igloos that they can hide inside, or thermal beds that warm-up using their body heat. Other things that fall under comfort include coats, some short hair breeds of dogs will feel the winter chill more than a thicker coated dog, so keeping them warm on their walks is important to keep them happy. Even during the summer, when the pavements and roads are too hot for a dog’s paws, many owners buy special shoes for their dogs so that they don’t injure themselves in the heat.

Adorableness

Finally, the need to make pets even cuter by dressing them up in various outfits and accessories. Who doesn’t want to see a dog running around in a stegosaurus costume? Or a cat looking sharp in a little bow tie? The fact is to a lot of people; their pets are their babies, they want them to look cute and show them off to friends and family, so outfits and the like are amazingly easy to find in shops and online. While my family has patiently waited until the holidays to dress our dogs up as vampires or witches or little elves with a Santa Claus, some households dress up their pets year-round, with adorable results.

With so many people currently owning pets, it seems unlikely that the market will suffer anytime in the near future, which is good news for us pet owners as it means the products on offer will continue to grow and evolve. The thing that matters most is keeping our pets happy, healthy, and loved, even if that means I occasionally subject my cats to dressing up in little hats.

2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year, to say the least, we have become accustomed to a new normal riddled with uncertainty. Our lives have drastically changed and we are wondering if things will get back to how they were before. The housing market has been no exception to this uncertainty and change, we’ve seen house price growth slump across the globe leaving many of us wondering whether 2021 is going to be the year that house prices bounce back.

 

Pre-Covid

Firstly it’s important to consider the fundamental factors that set house prices. Starting from a simple stance of supply and demand we expect prices to reflect the incomes based in an area or commutable from that property. This is called the income bid-price spread and has been the dominant traditional theory widely recognized by economists. That is that as more jobs there are in an area the more people there are with money to purchase housing. Another big factor affecting house prices that we’ve seen play a part, especially in recent years, is interest rates and access to finance. Again acting on the demand side of the equation in a similar way is that as people have access to mortgages they can afford to spend more on a house which pushes prices up. When interest rates are lower it makes larger loans manageable on lower incomes than previously would be as the monthly repayments get smaller.

 

United States housing stock has always been seen as a pretty safe deposit of capital by foreign entities, particularly those from unstable currency areas and those living with political risk. As long as this is true there is always going to be pressure supporting the housing market. The dollar being the global reserve currency, highly liberalized financial markets, and loose capital controls make American assets attractive. When the dollar loses value against other currencies it makes the price of American assets cheaper to foreign entities too, so those from abroad who were thinking of buying a second home in America will find their money goes further. Experts generally believe that even with these influences and distortions the overvaluing of real estate in the United States is modest at best.

 

Covid effects

As social distancing has been made paramount to prevent the spread of the virus the move to working from home has been accelerated at an unprecedented rate. The fact that a large volume of the workforce now no longer need to live anywhere near their place of employment spells a huge structural change in demand for housing. The suggestion is that prices in urban centers that host high concentrations of well-paying office work are going to see their value stagnate and fall relative to the rest of the market. As many people are laid off demand falls, businesses are delaying investment until there is some certainty too corporate purchases of property are being delayed which in turn dampens down demand. Since the global financial crisis banks have had their lending rules tightened and restrictions placed on how precariously they can balance their position. Chiefly relevant to house prices is the lack of leverage and risk of default now relatively absent compared to 2008 we can assume that a serious crash is very unlikely.

 

It’s hard to see a clear reflection of the effects to some extent as the volume of transactions slowed down during the height of the lockdown and would probably have been biased towards the distressed quick sales required by those hardest hit by the pandemic.

In the United Kingdom, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak granted a tax break on the stamp duty paid on house sales on the first £500,000 ($646,000) of the property’s value to address the slowdown on the other side of the pacific. Famously the legal red tape and bureaucracy can make transactions very expensive to implement and any cutting back of this would help the market without making anyone worse off.  In any case, the housing market is structurally changing and new types of business are booming the house guys in Washington DC take advantage of a relator free model to name just one-way value can be added to property without commissions sucking money out of everyone’s pockets.

 

Post-Covid

Moving forward it is hard to know how much of the investment that could not happen because of lockdown is an investment that has been delayed or has been canceled because it could be the case that a large amount of activity has been pent up only to be released in 2021 in a similar fashion to what happened after the financial crash. On both sides of the equation, there are multiple factors pushing house prices both ways. Nobody intelligent can conclusively say which forces are stronger and ultimately predict a movement either way.