By Radhika Anilkumar and Yadarisa Shabong
(Reuters) -Pets At Home said on Wednesday Britons were buying fewer toys and other items for their dogs amid a cost-of-living squeeze, but were still spending on essentials such as food and litter and on Christmas ranges.
Britain's largest pet supplies retailer said its first-half profit fell 9.3% to 59.2 million pounds ($70.54 million), sending its shares down 6%, as it grappled with higher freight and energy costs.
Revenue for the six months ended Oct. 13 rose 7.3% to 727.2 million pounds.
"In a challenging macro-environment, the pet care industry remains in growth across all channels, and we have continued to acquire new customers at an impressive rate, setting new records for customer numbers in recent months," CEO Lyssa McGowan said.
The company, founded by British businessman Anthony Preston in 1991, retained its profit outlook despite the higher costs.
Pet buying and adoption has risen as the pandemic forced people to stay at home.
While pet food appears relatively immune to higher prices, there are signs that the rising cost of living in Britain is hitting demand for more expensive pet accessories.
"We think that PETS is starting to see some evidence of consumers trading down, with new customers buying more of the lower price point, grocery products and more own-brand product," analysts at RBC said in a note.
The company operates stores and a website which it ramped up during the pandemic, banking on subscriptions for regularly used items as work-from-home lifestyles and lockdowns spurred pet demand.
($1 = 0.8393 pounds)
(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; editing by Rashmi Aich and Jason Neely)