Business forecast: Change mixed with stability

Published on April 19, 2021
AVMA chart of the month

Busy veterinary practices and accompanying revenue increases show growing consumer confidence in the United States and offer hope for economic recovery. But the new economy will not necessarily be the same one we left behind in 2019. Practitioners can expect to see permanent changes in some consumer preferences. Most important, practices can begin adapting now to strengthen long-term client relationships.

As today’s chart shows, 2020 brought healthy growth across revenue categories, both in products and veterinary services, despite the pandemic. You can monitor these indicators yourself on a regular basis through the new Veterinary Industry Tracker on avma.org, and sign up for the monthly Practice Pulse newsletter for a digest of key data, trends, and business tips from AVMA’s expert analysts. Both resources are powered by a partnership between the AVMA and VetSuccess

What the data show

Revenue growth at veterinary practices, 2020 vs. 2019
  • Nationwide, practice revenues were up in all categories for 2020, compared with 2019: Veterinary services revenue rose 7.7%, product sales 6.6%, heartworm protection 9.9%, and flea/tick protection 3.9%.
  • Driven by the ongoing vaccination rollout, more than half of U.S. consumers say they expect to increase their spending later in the year as they splurge and treat themselves in celebration of recovery. Higher-income millennials intend to spend the most.
  • Despite the planned increase in spending, many consumers indicate they intend to retain some of the behaviors they adopted during the pandemic. For example: Over half of consumers expect to keep using curbside pick-up options, and more than 70% want to continue using digital health and wellness tools, like telemedicine. 

What does this mean?

Some significant changes are on the horizon as the economy steers toward recovery. As this happens, veterinary practices need to strike a successful balance that satisfies two distinct sets of clients: those who wish to resume life as normal, and those who wish to keep some of the habits and activities spurred by the pandemic. While some clients will be clamoring to get back inside the clinic, others will want to continue using curbside care and virtual options. Both types of care-delivery models are important, and both offer great opportunities to build successful and long-lasting relationships with owners. 

What can veterinarians do?

Planning today and taking small actions right now can pave the way for veterinary practices to create even stronger connections with clients as the economy moves into recovery and beyond. 

  • Have proactive conversations with clients about their preferences for care options going forward. The AVMA’s Telehealth Resource Center can help you expand or implement new connected-care services if your clients are looking for them.  
  • Get a deeper understanding of your market area, its demographics and potential client base. This market share estimator gives companion animal practices a step-by-step process to calculate market size and share, and set realistic goals for growth.
  • Compare your expenses and revenues against similar practices to identify opportunities for growth and efficiency. The AVMA profit and loss calculator makes this easy.
  • Sign up to have the Practice Pulse newsletter delivered straight to your inbox every month. Use the information – along with the Veterinary Industry Tracker – to track national and state trends in veterinary activity, and compare them against your own practice.
  • Explore emerging industry trends and how consumer behavior impacts veterinary medicine in a live CE webinar on April 30. It’s free to all AVMA members, or $25 if you’re not an AVMA member. 
  • Monitor vaccination progress in your local area. Economists expect higher vaccination rates to drive increased economic activity. 

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