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Here’s How Much Consumers Will Spend on the Holidays This Year

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They’re more confident in 2017.

With the holiday shopping season upon us, consumers say they will spend an average $967.13 this year, a survey has found.

That’s up 3.4 percent from the $935.58 consumers said they would spend when surveyed at the same time last year, according to the annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation.

“With employment and incomes increasing, consumers are more confident this year and that is reflected in their buying plans for the holidays,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers have been stocking up in expectation of this, and all signs are that this will be a busy holiday season. Retailers are preparing for a rush of consumers leading into Thanksgiving and all through December, and are offering a wide array of merchandise and promotions so shoppers can find great gifts and great deals at the same time.”

For the 11 year in a row, gift cards remain the most popular items on wish lists, requested by 61 percent of those surveyed, followed by clothing and accessories at 55 percent, the highest level the category has seen in 12 years. Two in five (39 percent) would like books, music or movies, the lowest in survey history. Others asked for consumer electronics (33 percent), home décor (24 percent), jewelry (23 percent), personal care or beauty items (21 percent), sporting goods (20 percent), and home improvement items (18 percent).

For the first time in survey history, online is the most popular shopping destination this year, cited by 59 percent of consumers. The survey also found that 57 percent will shop at a department store, 54 percent at a discount store, 46 percent at a grocery store/supermarket and 35 percent at clothing or accessories store. The survey found 27 percent plan to visit an electronics store, 25 percent a small or local business, and 18 percent will go to a crafts or fabrics store.

The consumer survey comes on top of NRF’s annual holiday spending forecast, which takes into account a variety of economic factors and projects that holiday retail sales in November and December this year will be up between 3.6 percent and 4 percent for a total between $678.8 billion and $682 billion.

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In addition, imports set an all-time record high late this summer as retailers brought in an unprecedented amount of merchandise in anticipation of a strong holiday season, and are continuing at unusually high numbers this fall, according to NRF’s monthly Global Port Tracker report.

The survey found that only 27 percent of consumers say their spending will be impacted by concerns about the nation’s economy, down from 32 percent during 2016’s election-year jitters and the lowest level since NRF began asking the question during the Great Recession in 2009.

Holiday spending comes in three main categories – gifts, at $608.06; items such as food, decorations, flowers and greeting cards, at $218.08; and other non-gift items consumers buy for themselves and their families, at $140.99.

Most consumers (59 percent) are waiting until at least November to begin holiday shopping. However, 22 percent started or were planning to start in October and 19 percent in September or earlier. Of the early shoppers, 65 percent say they are trying to spread out their budgets while 49 percent do not want the stress of last-minute shopping and 48 percent want to avoid the crowds.

“While many consumers are holding off until November or later to start their holiday shopping, retailers should be prepared for high traffic online and in stores come Thanksgiving weekend as customers start tackling their lists,” Prosper Insights Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said. “Although sales will remain an important factor for most consumers, many will lean on convenient locations and easy-to-use websites or mobile apps along with free shipping to complete their purchases.”

The survey of 7,349 consumers was conducted Oct. 3-10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

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High-Protein Meat-Free Dog Food Debuts at SuperZoo

It incorporates yeast proteins.

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LAS VEGAS — Wild Earth Inc. has launched what it calls “the industry’s first line of high-protein, meat-free dog food” at the SuperZoo Conference in Las Vegas.

The food will be available in independent pet food retailers nationwide starting in September, with United Pacific Pet serving as the exclusive distributor in California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. The product can also be purchased online at https://wildearth.com.

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“The effects of meat production on the environment are well-documented and utterly unsustainable, and pet food is a large part of the problem. The irony is that there is a better way, dogs can thrive on a clean, plant-based diet,” said Wild Earth CEO Ryan Bethencourt. “When we set out to make the healthiest food for our pets and the environment, we knew we had to look past meat. We’re of course also animal lovers, so kind, cruelty-free nutrition that avoids lab animal testing is of utmost importance to us.”

Wild Earth states that its pet food “replaces factory-farmed meat with yeast proteins that provide the 10 essential amino acids that dogs require without the harmful effects of meat production.”

According to a press release:

Wild Earth’s clean protein formula is the industry’s first dog food that uses yeast protein as the main ingredient, a unique, major source of dietary fiber that’s absent in animal meat and highly lacking in conventional dog foods. Thus, the formula provides a clean protein source with an added nutritional boost.

The veterinarian-developed food offers 31% complete proteins in every scoop and a natural umami (meaty) taste that dogs love. By utilizing 100% purposeful ingredients — oats, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, blueberries, pumpkin, spinach — dogs are treated to healthy fibers, vitamins, antioxidants, chloride and potassium. And these sources provide energy, heart health, immune system support, better digestion and nutrient absorption, among other key benefits. There are also no artificial preservatives or flavors and no corn, soy or rice in Wild Earth’s formula.

Wild Earth has secured more than $16 million in funding thus far, including a Series A round led by VegInvest announced earlier this year and $550,000 from Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and judge on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

“I invested in Wild Earth because they have the potential to transform the Pet Food industry just like Beyond Meat has transformed the meat industry,” said Cuban. “The release of their first flagship product, a clean, high protein dog food, is a huge milestone for the whole pet food industry.”

Yeast-based proteins are approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as safe for dogs.

“A common misconception is that dogs need animal meat in their diet, but what they truly need is protein. And protein is readily available to dogs from a variety of plant and fungi-based sources. In fact, many would be surprised to learn that the fungal proteins used by Wild Earth contain more protein per gram than beef,” said Wild Earth Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Ernie Ward.

Representatives from Wild Earth will be available at this year’s SuperZoo conference, booth #565.

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Bayer to Sell Animal Health Business in $7.6B Deal

The deal will double Elanco’s companion animal business.

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GREENFIELD, IN — Elanco Animal Health Inc. plans to acquire Bayer AG’s animal health business in a $7.6 billion deal.

The transaction “will create the second-largest animal health leader,” according to a press release from Elanco (NYSE:ELAN). It will double Elanco’s companion animal business.

“This combination will join two complementary animal health-focused entities previously under the human pharma umbrella into a dedicated company focused on delivering for farmers, veterinarians and pet owners,” said Jeffrey N. Simmons, president and CEO of Elanco. “It creates increased speed, attention and investment to bring customers greater access and options at a variety of price points to make a difference in the lives of animals.

“We look forward to adding Bayer Animal Health’s employees’ breadth of expertise. Ultimately, we believe these increased capabilities and knowledge will allow us to better support the veterinarian, creating a bridge between the pet owner and the veterinarian where relationships don’t exist today.”

Bayer AG’s CEO, Werner Baumann, said: “Our Animal Health business is among the pioneers of this sector, having built up an attractive portfolio and secured well-established market positions in the companion and farm animal segments. And now, the combination with Elanco will give rise to a leading competitor in the animal health industry, benefiting customers, employees and shareholders alike.”

Elanco will finance the transaction through both cash and equity. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions,

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78 Animals Rescued From Fire at Pet Resort

Some pets were treated for smoke inhalation.

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Firefighters rescued 78 animals from a fire at Pet Paradise, a pet resort in Charlottesville, Va., on Sunday.

Dogs and cats were taken to local veterinary clinics in the area to be treated for smoke inhalation, CBS 19 News reported. (Watch a CBS 19 News video about the fire below.)

The Daily Progress reported that about 10 animals were in critical condition. Some animals were being taken to the Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital, and some were going to shelters and foster homes.

In a message on its website Monday morning, Pet Paradise Charlottesville stated:

Our management team continues to be focused on ensuring the safety of all the pets at Pet Paradise Charlottesville after this emergency. As of this morning, we have contacted all the owners and notified them of their pets locations. The pets previously reported in critical condition are now in stable condition and being cared for by local veterinary hospitals. We currently have 2 cats and 1 dog that escaped during the emergency last night. Our team members spent the night searching for these pets and our number one priority is locating them and safely returning them to our owners. Our efforts today will be focused on locating these pets.

Firefighters were called to the blaze at about 6:25 p.m. and had extinguished it by 8 p.m. One firefighter was taken to the hospital after suffering heat-related injuries, according to CBS 19.

It’s still unknown what caused the fire.

Watch a news video about the fire:

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