A hidden pandemic of buyer remorse has swept through homes in Ireland and Britain undetected. Victims include those who have given in to the temptation to buy a robot vacuum, a conveyor belt or a dear Ice cream machine during containment.
A recent survey of 4,000 adults in Britain found that nine in ten indulge in ‘non-essential’ locking ‘treats’, and many of them are now suffering from regrets.
One in 20 people have bought a jacuzzi, more than a third of whom now wish they had not. Personally, I would question characterizing a giant inflatable hot tub as “non-essential” during a global pandemic, but some market research companies clearly have no sense of adventure.
The survey results suggest that some of the purchases people have doubts include play equipment, tools, clothing, and home gym items.
What have been the most successful pandemic-inspired impulse buys here, and those already regulated at the gadget cemetery under the guest bedroom bed?
I posed the question on Twitter, and the results of my admittedly unscientific investigation of over 250 responses are available. Buyers of airfryers, heated clothes lines, decent coffee machines, hammocks, pizza ovens and pets (including dogs, cats and chickens) were among the most satisfied. The same – luckily – with the handle who responded by saying that they had bought a real lodge or acquired another child.
Animal charities have warned people against impulse buying – during Lockdown 1.0’s great puppy boom, but for those who have thought about it carefully and, better yet, adopted instead, it seems like it was a universally positive decision. Among them was broadcaster Rick O’Shea, who said adopting two dogs was “the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to us.” Of course, that led to the purchase of walking boots, rain jackets, dog jackets and sweaters, treats, a billion poo bags.
I did not have puppy, but i have similar feelings of unadulterated joy about my lockdown deep fryer. I stop before I keep a photo of it on my phone, but I enthusiastically praise its benefits to anyone who is unfortunate enough to ask.
No, you didn’t ask for it, but briefly, the “deep fryer” part is a misnomer – rather it is a small, fast, and efficient mini-oven, with the convenience of a microwave, and no loss of taste or texture. We use it several times a week, for roasting meat and vegetables, making weekend fries and making fries, chicken wings and French bread pizza.
The verdict on glaciers acquired during confinement was, unfortunately, more mixed. “It takes up a ton of space but it’s great and it should pay off in just under 20 years,” says Phil Pierce of his top-of-the-line model.
However, those who have stocked up on kits for a new or existing hobby mostly seem free from remorse. A great esoteric variety of musical instruments – including mandolins, banjos, guitars, old-fashioned church harmonicas, ukuleles, and even cowbells – were acquired during the lockdown, and the majority still seem to bring great joy to their owners . It is not known if the same can be said of those who live with them.
People who resisted the allure of a new kitchen gadget and bought a piece of art instead, have few regrets. Award-winning sausage maker Jane Russell took to the online auction, coming away with “a beautiful painting and a pair of candlesticks that must go in the trash, except I think I’m too embarrassed to even do it.” .
Those who have taken care of their hands gardening or doing crafts or even dabbling in home decorating seem to be largely happy with their choice. What Oonagh Charleton absolutely had to have during the miserable days of Lockdown 1.0 was not a slanket or monthly delivery of craft beer, but a healthier one. potter’s wheel.
It turned out to be an “amazing” buy. She has used it five or six times, and her ten year old has used it more often. “Cleaning takes longer than manufacturing, but it’s a fantastic pleasure. Difficult to learn solo skills while on lockdown, ”but YouTube has been helpful, she writes. “You need a completely separate building to handle the zillions of clay particles that shoot up in every direction imaginable. I always clean the terra cotta stains from the dining room walls… If I had a spare garden shed, we would definitely use it more.
Some people now have a spare garden shed, or aura. One day. Joseph McSweeney shared a photo of what was supposed to be his lockdown shed. “A ton of building materials and in the process of building a garden shed. It takes forever and I have regrets.
Martin Savage’s ‘Impulse Buy’, meanwhile, is a fully equipped, premium outdoor barbecue area featuring five different types of ovens for slow cooking, smoking and barbecuing, allowing him to do everything from smoke salmon or bacon, burn flavored wood pellets, roast chicken on a spit, all without ever going back inside. “Next on the shopping list is a pizza oven,” he says.
For others, it’s all about the little things. Broadcaster Fionnuala Moran has invested in “a wax seal seal with my initials on it. Completely unnecessary but I love it. I feel like sending letters to Hogwarts or something so magical every time I send a little mail.
Writer Sinead Corr’s best buys were a pair of binoculars and some Wellington for “walking in the mud for miles and seeing the wildlife” around Essex, where she lives. “I feel like I’ve been blind for half a century and finally started to enjoy the world that has always surrounded me.”
There was a rush on motorhomes early in the summer and although many people insist that they always enjoy theirs, for others the reality has not lived up to the dream of long sunny days spent camping wildly on secluded beaches.
Waterford Green Party TD Marc O Cathasaigh sold his motorhome – “broke my heart, but then it broke my heart,” he says – and bought a Brompton folding bike instead, that he likes. “It makes traveling by train to Dublin so much more convenient.”
Karl Carpenter also ended up selling his containment motorhome, which he bought before leaving for France for 14 months. “I was locked up for 200 days with all borders closed. Managed 12 nights. I came home and sold it to the dealer who was very generous. Thank God.”
Paul Flynn, owner of the Tannery restaurant in Dungarvan, “bought a motorhome just before the lockdown,” says his wife, Máire. “She should be called Camilla because she is now the third person in our marriage and it is quite crowded. And very tense.
I myself had a brief and intense flirtation with the idea of owning a motorhome but – in hindsight, perhaps fortunately – I settled for a pair of sheepskins for 150 €. Birkenstock, whose cost per wear is so low that I think Birkenstock is basically paying me at this point. I’m not alone: hairy birks are a surprise favorite and universally popular in the Twitter survey.
My other impulse buy with no regrets was a € 500 Dyson Fan and Air Purifier Kit, an expensive but essential acquisition for someone with mild germophobic tendencies experiencing a pandemic in a home with windows you can’t always count on to open.
If there is another lockdown, my research reveals elements of impulse that you might want to resist. In no particular order, they are: roller skates and trampolines (unless the intended recipient is a child); Dear cameras (your phone will do most of the same things); plane tickets (unless you are very clear on the refund policy); all sequin clotheswide, beaded or elaborate shoulders (where do you think you’re going exactly?); telescopes (is it a purchase for the life you have, or the life you would like to have?); ground vapors (I was tempted, but most purchases during the lockdown were consigned to the gadget graveyard); jacuzzi (repeat after me: this is not California); robot vacuum cleaners (excellent in theory, less reliable in practice); 3d printers (Same); home draft beer machines (and ditto).
Irish spending habits may now return to more normal patterns, Revolut says. The digital payments group found that there had been a “significant increase” in the number of people buying clothes last month, as spending at bars and fast food outlets increased by 10% and spending in cinemas by 62%. There were no specific figures for national spending on airfryers and pottery towers, but it’s probably safe to assume that these are now on a downward trajectory.
Still, parts of that horrible time were fun, and I’ll never regret my locked airfryer.