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Retail Roundup: Pet Valu blames COVID for plan to close U.S. stores, including 6 on LI

The Pet Valu location in Jericho is one

The Pet Valu location in Jericho is one of six on Long Island that will be closed, the chain said.  Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Pet supply chain Pet Valu is blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for its plan to close its 358 U.S. stores, including the six on Long Island.

The "stores have been significantly impacted by the protracted COVID-19-related restrictions. After a thorough review of all available alternatives, we made the difficult but necessary decision to commence this orderly wind down," Jamie Gould, Pet Valu’s chief restructuring officer, said in a statement Wednesday.

The chain’s six Long Island stores are in Commack, Oyster Bay, Jericho, Hauppauge, South Setauket and Island Park.

Pet Valu U.S. licenses its name and contracts for some services from Pet Valu Canada, which is a separate company based in Markham, Ontario. The Canadian company, which has about 600 stores and franchise locations, will not be affected by the shutdown of U.S. operations, Pet Valu said in the statement.

The shuttering of U.S. operations will include warehouses in the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S., as well as the corporate office in Wayne, Pennsylvania, the statement said.

A privately held company, Pet Valu did not respond to a request for comment.

The pandemic has put nails in the coffins of a host of brick-and-mortar retailers, including Lord & Taylor, Century 21, Pier 1 Imports and New York & Co.

But pet supply retailers have been performing well during the pandemic, so Pet Valu’s announcement that it would be closing stores because of the health crisis was surprising, said Steve King, president and chief executive officer of the American Pet Products Association, a Stamford, Connecticut-based trade group that represents pet product manufacturers and importers.

U.S. sales of pet food and other products are projected to hit $61.7 billion this year, a 10% increase from the $56.1 billion in 2019, according to the association.

The increase is due in part to more people buying pets during the health crisis.

"So, we know that the impact of lockdown, of children not being in school and/or having school from home has led a lot of families to look for ways to keep kids engaged and entertained and certainly getting a pet is one way to do that," King said.

Also, while most other retailers were forced by government mandates to close for several months during the pandemic to help stop the spread of the virus, pet supply stores were allowed to remain open as essential businesses.

Pet Valu is the fourth-largest pet supply retailer in the U.S., based on store count, King said.

The chain's store closing sales will begin in the next few days, according to its statement, which did not specify a date for the closings.

All sales are final as of Thursday, and orders will no longer be accepted on the Pet Valu U.S. website, the statement said.

But U.S. customers can still use Pet Valu gift cards and loyalty rewards for purchases.

Retail Roundup is a column about major retail news on Long Island — store openings, closings, expansions, acquisitions, etc. — that is published online and in the Monday paper. To read more of these columns, click here. If you have news to share, please send an email to Newsday reporter Tory N. Parrish at tory.parrish@newsday.com.

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