All the things we bought in lockdown - and regretted

·5 min read
Woman sitting on sofa with many boxes on her knees
Is there a stuffed crocodile in there (Getty Images)

While the pandemic is still rolling on, there are some less dramatic aspects of it that are - we hope - over. Chief amongst them, the insane impulse to buy stuff online that we'll never, ever use.

According to Aviva, 36% of Brits spent more during lockdown.

Our purchases included a 7ft inflatable elephant, thousands of gazebos, many hot tubs, a whole raft of musical instruments, and more pizza ovens than the entire Amalfi coast. 

On average, we forked out over £1,200 each at a collective cost of £57.6billion - but shockingly, £6.6billion worth of these purchases are no longer used.

The 'most regretted purchases', according to a new survey by Aviva, include home gym equipment, gaming gadgets and musical instruments, and while hot tubs seemed like the perfect way to relax through house arrest, 36 per cent of buyers wished they hadn't bothered, possibly due to a combination of British weather and the relentless requirement to faff about with cleaning chemicals. 

How water swirling in wooden hot tub outside in nature. Enjoying hot steaming pool on a sunny day, private spa treatment. Nobody
You won't regret it! Oh wait, you will. (Getty images)

An unmusical 37% wish they'd left the musical instrument on its stand, while a grumpy 30% regretted paying for a new tablet or smartphone. 

Eight per cent of consumers never even used their new items, which included bread-makers and scooters, while another nine per cent used them at first – but they're now gathering dust. Less pricey goods such as clothes and shoes were in demand too, with more than half the population treating themselves to new wardrobes.

Read more: Sporty summer lifts post-lockdown UK consumer spending

A quarter of those surveyed blamed spending more time at home or wanting to cheer themselves up for their spending spree.

"Nicola Charles, of insurer Aviva, which polled 4,000 adults, said: Faced with weeks or months at home, many of us made purchases to entertain ourselves, often costing hundreds or even thousands of pounds."

Other must-haves, according to a Barclaycard survey, included an inflatable pub, a Tom Jones jigsaw puzzle, a Mr Bean cardboard cutout, a stretch rubber chicken, a star, a stuffed crocodile and a penny farthing. 

Sadly, for most, those sudden decisions to learn a language, master an instrument or become proficient in mah-jong didn't always work out. 

plush toy green crocodile isolated on white background
Was it you who bought this? (Getty Images)

"Neither I nor my husband can play a string instrument," says Charlotte Millington of www.homeandgardenthings.com. "But we reckoned we were quick at picking things up and could give it a good go.

"We were worried that we might end up wasting our time during lockdown and have nothing to show for it, we’d recently completed some house and garden projects but after those we felt like we weren’t achieving much." Hence, they excitedly ordered a large, electric cello. 

"The cello lasted about 2 weeks before we decided it was too hard to learn and also massively bulky," she admits.

Watch: COVID-19 spike sends shoppers on renewed spree for store goods

Charlotte recommends Facebook Marketplace to offload lockdown purchases you regret.

"There will always be people looking for pre-owned instruments for Christmas - we recently sold a guitar and we’re inundated with people asking to purchase it as a Christmas present," she says. "There are also selling groups that specialise in certain instruments that are worth joining, we sold our Cello to a lady in Brighton who paid us to deliver it.

"Sure we lost some money on our original impulse purchase but we now don’t have a cello taking up space in the living room and it’s gone to a home that will truly appreciate it!"

Of course you'll look like this. Absolutely. (Getty Images)
Of course you'll look like this. Absolutely. (Getty Images)

Poppy, who runs wedding planning site Your Best Day Ever, adds, "We bought the typical hot tub, posh gazebo, gym equipment… have they been used? The gym equipment definitely hasn’t!"

Others imagined spending happy hours in the garden, now matter what the weather was doing. 

"We bought a huge outdoor heater in the hope that we could use it when people were allowed to come to our garden," says accountant turned baker Emma Hollingsworth, a mum of three. "We’ve not used it once."

For getting rid of bulky and regrettable purchases, Emma is a fan of Facebook buy and sell groups, Nextdoor and Gumtree. "If the items are broken or unusable my local council also runs a service where they will collect things from you a certain number of times a year."

Here's hoping we've seen the last of lockdowns - and if not, learn from the mistakes of others (or yourself) and don't buy a hot tub, gazebo or giant cello. 

Read more: Coronavirus: Brits shop closer to home due to lockdown while half of spending is online

20 most common items purchased during lockdown

1 Takeaway food and drink

2 Summer clothes

3 Plants and flowers for the garden

4 Baking ingredients (flour etc)

5 Spirits

6 Loungewear

7 Paint and tools

8 Make-up

9 Nightwear

10 Entertainment subscriptions

11 Lingerie

12 Indoor plants and flowers

13 Books

14 Video games

15 Wine delivery or subscription

16 Shaving products

17 Baking utensils

18 Gardening equipment

19 Pets

20 Headphones/earphones

(Source, Barclaycard)

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