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Pet Store Prices and Loyalty Programs

We filled a virtual shopping basket with 10 items, including food, shelter, and accessories, and found that prices are generally lower at Petco. The bottom line for these products came to $425.44 at Petco and $461.40 at PetSmart, a difference just shy of $36.

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We also noted that dog training services are less costly at Petco whereas the charge for grooming a standard poodle (prices vary by breed) is more expensive (the cheaper PetSmart grooming package includes one less component).

We further determined that Petco's online platform is easier to navigate and stocked with a wider assortment of goods. Additionally, the vendor operates a more generous loyalty program. Shopper reviews, however, cast a bit of a pall on Petco's online operation, telling of problems with order fulfillment and refunds.

PetSmart, by contrast, gets the nod for extra services and customer relations. It offers veterinary care (and prepaid wellness plans), dog and cat boarding, and doggie day care at many locations. And, according to reviewers, it provides good online customer service.

Petco vs. PetSmart: Prices.

For our pet stores faceoff we assembled a shopping list of 10 common pet products, including cat litter and box, dog and cat food, pet shelters (dog crate, aquarium, cage), dog leash, and toy. Prices were generally cheaper at Petco, where the total bill came to $425.44 compared with $461.40 at PetSmart. For example, all available colors of the SeaClear 20-Gallon Aquarium go for $125 at Petco while PetSmart sets prices according to color: the cobalt blue, at $145, is the cheapest and the black, at $187, the most expensive.

Price differentials don't seem to follow any pattern associated with actual product prices. We noted a $2.20 difference on 14 liters of Carefresh Basic Blend Pet Bedding -- $4.79 at Petco vs. $6.99 at PetSmart -- and a $3.73 difference on the Midwest Solution Series Side by Side Double Door SUV Dog Crate -- $140.72 at Petco vs. $136.99 at PetSmart. In all, Petco underpriced PetSmart on seven of the 10 items in our virtual shopping basket.

We priced out a couple of services, as well, and again found that Petco is often cheaper. A six-week dog training class costs $110 at Petco compared with $119 at PetSmart; the former also offers discounts for rescue dogs and runs frequent training specials. Petco's price for a private one-hour training session is $70 compared with PetSmart's fee of $89. On the other hand, the cost of grooming a standard poodle is cheaper at PetSmart -- $65 vs. $72 -- although the Petco package includes an ear cleaning.

Review continues below

PetSmart vs. Petco: Loyalty Programs.

Both retailers offer membership-based loyalty programs. Petco's program, Petco Pals, includes a rewards card that delivers tangible benefits, specifically five "reward dollars" for every $100 spent through the website or in-store (these expire after 45 days). It also gives members exclusive discounts and preferred pricing. PetSmart's rewards program, dubbed PetPerks, provides access to in-store discounts, members-only coupons, customization options for sale alerts, and a treat on the pet's birthday.

by Josue Ledesma (Google+ Profile)

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Filed in: Pet food, Pets.
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