- Amid a pandemic rise in pet retail, PetSmart is offering shoppers the chance to get their pets photographed with Santa Claus in stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, the retailer announced on Friday. Customers were able to book a free photo appointment on Dec. 11 and Dec. 12, and the promotion continues on Dec. 18 and Dec. 19 between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. local time.
- The retailer is also hosting a holiday photo contest on social media and will give 30 winners a grand prize of a year's supply of Hill's Science Diet pet food, the company said. Participants can post a photo or video of their pet with a holiday component on Instagram or Twitter, mention @PetSmart and use the hashtags #SantaAtPetSmart and #Contest to enter.
- The company has also unveiled its Merry & Bright collection, featuring matching sweaters, holiday toys and advent calendars for pets.
Besides unveiling a holiday marketing campaign, PetSmart also recently expanded into pet healthcare. In September, the retailer launched The Pharmacy at PetSmart, an online pharmacy where customers can order their pet medicine prescribed by their veterinarian. From there, the retailer verifies their prescriptions and ships the drugs directly to the customer.
Meanwhile, the overall sector has seen a boom during the COVID-19 pandemic as people turned to their pets as a source of comfort during the global health crisis.
But as PetSmart introduces new services and apparel for pets, the retailer's business practices have recently been criticized. A report from United for Respect, a worker activist group, alleged that PetSmart employees weren't protected from the coronavirus and the retailer's failure to staff stores properly left animals at risk. The report alleged that understaffing and insufficient training made it "difficult to properly handle customer traffic and provide professional petcare," while supply shortages and faulty equipment have hurt services.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to the company's owners expressing concerns regarding the report and asked for steps to protect workers and pets.