Bethowen: people stockpile pet food

Text: Yulia Dolzhenkova

George Chkareuli, the CEO of Bethowen pet retail chain, shares his view of the current market situation.

‘Last week Bethowen stores experienced consumers hoarding pet products. People are generally scared. They stockpile the main essentials not only for themselves, but for their beloved pets as well. Sales increased mainly from our existing customer base. We are aware that hoarding will have an impact on future sales. We expect future sales to reflect the hoarding as well as the impact from the general economic development in the market.

Many customers are afraid that pet stores will be closed during quarantine. There is also fear that all the imported products will not be available since the national borders will continue to be closed. Nevertheless, currently we are not experiencing any shortages.

Another trend that we see is the increase in online shopping. Bethowen’s online store has truly had a blast these days. The number of online orders grew by 500%. Apparently, our logistics would not be able to digest such a growth without increasing delivery intervals. I believe the same would happen to any other business facing a sudden fivefold growth.

We are utilizing our logistics capacity as best as we can. We would have been able to fulfil existing intervals if the growth of online orders had been at 250% compared to normal. But now Bethowen online store has to prolong delivery times from one day up to 2–3 days. Our offline stores are focusing their efforts on fulfilling the online orders. We also work together with online marketplaces like Ozon and Beru to fulfil orders.

Panic buying has not stopped. We do not expect it to subside for a while yet. Many things will depend on the situation in the big conurbations and the harshness of government’s actions regarding the prevention of the spread of the virus. If the measures do not become stricter, and the level of stock in pet stores remains sufficient, people will start to buy less in the near future. This will happen to every retailer in Russia who is still able to keep their stores open.

The essential question is what consumer preferences and buying habits will be post Corona. If some clients get the habit of buying online, they might never or only partially return to the brick & mortar shop. The entire retail landscape may basically change. The Bethowen team is very much concerned about this. Another issue is how long the quarantine will last. Will this time-span be long enough to fundamentally change consumer habits or not? more

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