The long tail of the pandemic puppy case

When it comes to counting the winners of the Covid-19 economy, some contenders have more bark than bite. Those who specialize in home gym equipment or back porch furniture have years of tough comparisons ahead of them.

Last week, another company that boomed during the pandemic reported that it had added millions of new customers in the past 12 months – most of whom are expected to stick around.

Petco, the pet supplies retailer, benefited from a pet resurgence during the long months of stay-at-home orders, as more than three million new pets were bought or adopted.

“They made the home richer and gave someone to hug,” Petco Chief Executive Ron Coughlin told me.

But the trends driving Petco tell us more than just how Americans dealt with the emotions of the past year. They reveal details of how months living and working from home has created new business opportunities in unlikely places, even at brick-and-mortar retailers whose best days were once behind them. Pet ownership in the US has become its own economic barometer, much like how RV sales predict how economically safe the country feels. The puppy tree is more than cute. It tells what it says about how we want to work and live in a post-pandemic world.