Wednesday 24th April 2024

Do you feel buyer’s remorse for pandemic purchases?

One in 10 people have expressed their regret over things they bought during the pandemic, according to a survey from Aviva.

The Covid lockdowns led to a surge in online purchases, but now millions of UK adults are feeling a twinge of buyer’s regret.

One buyer’s remorse

Sarah Poulter bought a piano 20 years after having last played one. She was overjoyed to explore a hobby during the January 2021 lockdown.

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However, her feelings were soon replaced with guilt, as the she used it less than expected once restrictions were lifted.

She says: “I think I feel a little bit bad that my husband wanted to buy it for a present, and I feel I should have used it more. Maybe it’s not regret but feeling bad with myself that I haven’t made as much effort with it as I should’ve done it.

“I’m slightly frustrated with myself for not using it more. But I can change that – it’s still within my gift to use it more.”

Sarah Poulter

Cost regrets

The Aviva survey of 4,000 people suggests many lockdown purchases are gathering dust:

  • with 9% of buyers saying they no longer use certain pandemic purchases
  • 11% confessing they used items less than expected
  • 8% admitting they didn’t use them at all.

The cost of regret is also significant. In fact, those who wish they hadn’t made purchases spent an average of £1,376 on regretted items – notably higher than the typical spend per person, according to the research.

Sarah spent £700 on her electric piano, but she now regrets not getting a second-hand or cheaper piano.

She adds: “It was a joint purchase, but it was my husband’s idea, and he decided that it was kind of a Christmas present. When I first got it, I did play some pieces and my husband bought me some beginners music because I’d forgotten how to play.

“I did manage to get a couple of pieces that that were a bit more complicated and to play it again. But then, as the world got more and more back to normal, it was difficult to find time to play it.

“I did buy a few clothes as well, because I think I got sick of wearing the same clothes. Some of them do work and some of them I’m not sure why I bought.”

Why do we regret the items we bought during Covid-19?

Among those who say they regretted items bought during lockdown, gaming equipment was the most common culprit for buyer’s remorse – with almost half of purchasers (45%) regretting games and consoles.

Clothes and tools tied for second place at 43%, with home gym equipment close behind for (39%) of people who bought these items.

Home gym equipment is also an item which is most likely to no longer be used, at 49% of purchases made. This is closely followed by musical instruments, with 48% of pandemic-buyers no longer using them.

Item purchased during the pandemicPercentage of people who regretted their purchase (of people who bought this item)
Gaming equipment45%
Tools / carpentry equipment43%
Home gym equipment39%
Musical instrument37%
Pizza oven37%

Nicki Charles, GI UK&I customer & marketing director at Aviva says: “So much has changed since the start of 2020. The way we work, how we interact with others – and it seems the contents of our homes too.

“Faced with weeks or months at home, many of us made purchases to entertain ourselves – often costing hundreds or even thousands of pounds.”

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Dana Raer


Dana is a former reporter at Mouthy Money, having previously worked for Times Money Mentor and the BBC.

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