Dr. Karen Felsted: Are we Sure the Recession isn’t the Whole Problem?

It would be great to think that the recession has been the most significant cause for the
declines in veterinary visits and when the economy improves, life will be good again but it just isn’t so. We know that veterinary visits started declining about 10 years ago, well before the 2007 recession. And while technically the recession ended in mid-2009, it doesn’t seem that way for many pet owners and many practices. According to the Bayer study, 51 percent of practices reported a drop in visits during the first two years after the recession ended with 1 out of 6 reporting declines of 10 percent or more. Another 14 percent of practices were flat and 34 percent were growing.  Revenue trends followed suit with 42 percent of practices reporting lower revenues in 2010 than in 2009.


veterinary visits May 2009 to May 2011


But what is really significant when you look at the data in the Bayer study is the
information about the 34 percent of practices that have reported growth in the post-recession period.

Only 15 percent of the practices surveyed in the Bayer study said the recession had had little or no impact on their local area.  Another 51 percent said the recession had had a moderate negative impact and about a third said it had had a significant negative impact. It would be easy to assume that the practices who are growing are located in areas not impacted much by the economic challenges. However, that just isn’t what the study showed.  Actually, two-thirds of the practices that continued to grow were in areas that were moderately or significantly negatively impacted by the recession. What this tells us is that its still possible to grow in this economy. It’s important not to use the recession as an excuse for the lack of growth.

What do you think these practices have in common or are doing that sets them apart?