For the full year, the pet retailer reported net sales increased 11% year over year to $4.9 billion, while its comp sales also increased 11%, according to a company press release. Petco's net loss attributable to shareholders was $26.5 million for the year, which includes a $17.5 million loss on the extinguishment of debt related to its IPO. The retailer reduced its debt by 49%, or $1.6 billion, to $1.7 billion.
The retailer expects net sales in the year ahead to increase up to 8.7% year over year to $5.35 billion on the higher end, or $5.25 billion on the lower end.
Petco's return to the public stock market comes as the pet category has experienced a boost in sales despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has hampered much of the industry.
"On the heels of a successful IPO in January, we closed the year with a strong fourth quarter, and that momentum has carried into 2021," CEO Ron Coughlin said in a statement. "Our category continues to grow powered by the millions of incremental new pets in households, which is creating an annuity for years to come."
The retailer, which added some 1 million new customers in the quarter, said it grew its digital business by more than 90%. But its store traffic also grew: Monthly visits to Petco increased 1.7% on average, according to a February report from foot traffics analytics firm Placer.ai.
Consumers have turned to their pets — or become first-time pet owners — during the pandemic to provide a source of comfort. The number of U.S. households owning a pet was projected to increase by 4% last year, according to Packaged Facts, which Petco previously said creates an estimated $4 billion in incremental annual demand for pet care products.
Late last year Barkbox parent, Bark, also announced plans to go public via a SPAC deal. And online pet retailer Chewy, which went public in 2019, has experienced record growth over the past year. In its third quarter, the company reported a 45% increase in net sales to $1.8 billion, while its active net customer base reached 17.8 million.
Petco's projected net sales growth for the year ahead indicates the retailer sees momentum in the space to continue. Despite other categories like apparel, which is largely viewed as a discretionary purchase and has suffered over the past year, the pet category has historically shown resilience even during times of economic uncertainty.