Plenty Left in the Tank



Seth Mendelson
Group Publisher
Group Editorial Director



Should we really devote a cover story to the aquatics category?

That is what some readers may be asking themselves after seeing the cover of this month’s issue of Pet Business—and it is valid question. After all, aquatics is a section of the pet store that, frankly, has not done very well in recent years, even as dog and cat product sales have continued their impressive growth.


But when the editors sat down for our monthly editorial meeting in early September to plan the lineup for this issue, we did so with the understanding that reporting about such a vital category as aquatics—even if this segment is struggling—is as important as any other story we might develop. The fact that the World Pet Association is holding its first Aquatics Experience in Chicago this month certainly made this story timely.

The bottom line really comes down to the simple fact that the aquatics category has always played an important role in the marketing and merchandising of pet stores. Plus, it has a special place in the hearts of retailers and consumers who come in just to see the fish and be mesmerized by watching them swim around.

As you will see in this month’s cover story, there may be signs that the aquatics section’s worst days are behind it. With the nagging recession seemingly over and consumers returning to a buying frame of mind, some industry officials say that aquatics sales—ranging from aquariums to supplies and even fish—should start to rebound.

But, as we write, there are still many roadblocks ahead. Competition from the Internet, big-box retailers and less-traditional areas is strong and will only intensify over the coming years. And demand may never return back to the halcyon days of the early 2000s, when consumers rushed to add aquariums to their living rooms and dens.

As always, our goal is to help pet retailers understand the marketplace when it comes to aquatics and determine for themselves whether they want to get into the market, go deeper with it, or look to give it up and try some other segment of pet retailing.

In the end, we think the aquatics market is well worth it. Hopefully we will see you at the Aquatics Experience event, starting Nov. 15 at the Schaumberg Convention Center in Schaumberg, Ill. It is a good opportunity to learn even more about this complex, challenging category.