Pet shops have seen a boom in popularity in Italy, but the country’s pet market is shrinking.
The number of stores opening annually has fallen from around 500 in 2007 to just over 300 now.
Pet stores now make up around a quarter of the countrys total retail market, with the majority of the remaining locations catering to small, medium and large-sized pet shops.
Pet store operators say the decline in sales is due to a combination of high prices and an oversupply of pet food.
“I think it’s the biggest reason why there’s such a sharp fall in sales.
The pet food industry is very important, but it’s also the reason for a huge number of closures,” Alessandro Di Martino, owner of the Milan Pet Store told Al Jazeera.
Di Martinos owner has been closing shops in Milan since 2009.
“It’s the first time in my career that I’ve closed a shop and I’m not surprised,” he said.
He has been selling pet food since 2010.
“People buy pets in Italy because they are happy with their pets, they’re not worried about the quality,” Di Martinis owner said.
Di martinis owners turnover is up from about 3,000 euros a month to over 6,000 a month.
“Our average turnover is over 15,000 Euros a month,” Di martini said.
“We do a good job of it, we have a good customer base and we are also offering a wide range of pet products and products for animals.”
The decline in pet store openings comes as Italian lawmakers are pushing for stricter regulation on pet stores.
In April this year, Italy passed a bill to regulate pet stores in the country, a move that will help ensure pet stores operate in a more safe and sanitary environment.
The legislation was introduced in June and will come into effect next year.
A similar bill is in place in France.
The Italian bill is aimed at ensuring pet stores are well-equipped to deal with any new threats to the pet industry, such as diseases and pests.
But Di martino warns pet owners should not expect an immediate jump in sales, because pet stores will have to adapt to a new market in Italy.
“The Italian market is growing, but unfortunately we will have a very long way to go before it reaches our level,” DiMartino said.