The boom in pet ownership amid the pandemic has helped Pets at Home notch up a 17.5% surge in retail sales in its festive quarter.
The group said like-for-like sales accelerated further in December, growing by 19.3%.
It comes after the retailer hiked its profit outlook earlier this month on the back of strong trading, revealing it now expects to deliver at least £77 million in underlying pre-tax profits for the full-year to March.
The chain has been boosted by a surge in demand for pets among Britons since the start of the coronavirus crisis while its essential status has allowed its stores to remain open throughout lockdowns.
Pets, which also runs a veterinary service, said like-for-like store sales rose 12.3% in the three months to December 31 despite the second lockdown across England in November.
Its 47-strong vet arm has also enjoyed solid trading, with like-for-like revenues up 17.8% in the quarter and surging by 21.4% in December.
Pets said it was “monitoring the situation” in Northern Ireland to ensure continuity of supply as red tape following the end of year Brexit deadline has caused widespread disruption in goods deliveries.
Peter Pritchard, group chief executive of Pets at Home, said: “I remain confident that the changes we have made to our business enable us to continue providing essential pet care to our customers in a safe and appropriate manner, not only through strict adherence to the protocols which we introduced across our stores and veterinary practices at the onset of the pandemic, and continue to strengthen, but also in a number of other ways, from contactless collection and delivery of pet products to virtual heath care consultations.
“I am very pleased with the progress we have made in this quarter, in particular how we have adapted to the changing environment in which we operate.”
In response to the pandemic, the group has launched a one-hour click and collect service across its 451-strong store estate, and a “Deliver to Car” service across more than 150 stores.
Its trading has also been buoyed by growing membership of its VIP and puppy and kitten clubs, with the latter typically spending around a quarter more than non-members.