Retailer Pets at Home has reported a 17.5% surge in retail sales for the festive quarter amid a surge in animal ownership during the pandemic.
The group said like-for-like sales accelerated further in December, growing by 19.3%, revealing it now expects to deliver at least £77 million in underlying pre-tax profits for the full-year to March.
It has been boosted by a surge in demand for pets among British households since the start of the coronavirus crisis while its essential status has allowed its stores to remain open throughout lockdowns.
Pets at Home, which also runs a veterinary service, said like-for-like store sales rose 12.3% in the three months to December 31 despite the second lockdown across England in November.
It added it was “monitoring the situation” in Northern Ireland to prevent stock shortages as red tape following the end of year Brexit deadline has caused widespread disruption in goods deliveries.
Peter Pritchard, group chief executive of Pets at Home, said: “I remain confident that the changes we have made to our business enable us to continue providing essential pet care to our customers in a safe and appropriate manner.
“Not only through strict adherence to the protocols, but also in a number of other ways, from contactless collection and delivery of pet products to virtual health care consultations.
“I am very pleased with the progress we have made in this quarter, in particular how we have adapted to the changing environment in which we operate.”
In response to the pandemic, the group has launched a one-hour click and collect service across its 451-strong store estate, and a “Deliver to Car” service across more than 150 stores.