Embarrassing pandemic purchases? I've had a few but we should look at our strange impulse buys as a lesson

SOME pineapple-shaped glasses. A sunlounger. An expensive silk shirt that didn’t fit. Countless takeaways.

These were just some of the things I’ve just had to purchase since the pandemic broke out.

Oh, and then there was the tomato plant and 100 litres of compost. Which would have been fine if I actually had a garden.

I’m not alone in my embarrassing shopping habits. A recent survey found that nearly three-quarters of people have bought something they later regretted during the boom in “random, regrettable or unreturnable” online shopping, since lockdown started.*

Some of the people surveyed admitted to purchasing such essentials as a 7ft inflatable elephant, a fish tank (but no fish), three different-sized disco balls and a Mandarin course. 

I’d love an invite to that party.

During a bout of insomnia, one of my friends recently panic-bought not one but four 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles, which are currently unopened.

Another confessed that after one too many home-made negronis, he ordered some very expensive fly fishing equipment, and when it arrived he thought it was a telescope (something he’d also been drunkenly browsing).

As alcohol sales have boomed since March, homes across the land now have at least one item we all thought we couldn’t live without, looked sheepishly at when it arrived and then stuffed in the nearest cupboard in the hope it would go away.

But even pre-Covid, I have to confess, I had some crazy shopping habits. Many is the time I would stumble home from a night out and decide that I really, really needed a sushi-making kit. Or a guitar. Or an exercise bike.

DRUNKEN PURCHASE

Once, at a house party, egged on by randoms, I drunkenly booked flights to New York on my phone. Trying to get a refund while navigating a hangover wasn’t fun. 

When I was a student, useless things would turn up at my house that I didn’t even remember ordering – a doll-sized dustpan and brush, a vintage (read: broken) chair from eBay.

I’ve even drunk-shopped in real-life, too. Take it from me and the strange green clogs I’ve never been able to walk in – do not, under any circumstances, go shoe shopping still buzzing from brunch-time proseccos.

But rather than feeling full of regret, perhaps we should look on our strange impulse buys as a lesson. If you bought a ker-razy novelty item over the last few months (that unicycle or ukulele), then you’re looking for more fun in your life. 

If you bought something to kick-start a hobby (a grand piano or a tapestry kit), perhaps you need a new challenge. But ideally one that doesn’t require a lot of expensive lessons or it being 1837.

There’s no point feeling guilty, especially if you’re fortunate enough to still be in the black and can support small businesses or the ailing high street.

This is a strange time, and if buying weird stuff makes you feel momentarily better, so be it.

Instead of hiding our embarrassing pandemic purchases, we should keep them on full view. That way, the next time I find myself hovering over “add to basket”, I might just pause.

A couple of days of reflection (or sobering up) can make all the difference. Unless, like me, you’ve just seen an advert on Instagram for something called a “nap dress”.

Finally, a fashion trend I can really get on board with.

● Follow Kate on Instagram @katewillswrites

This week I’m…

Enrolling on… MasterClass: This online platform has people like Anna Wintour and Serena Williams sharing their expertise. 

Trying… Nessa: Organic skincare designed for women at various stages of life, from pregnancy through to menopause.

Cosying up in… Sheep Inc: This carbon-negative knit has a lifetime guarantee, plus you get to adopt a sheep

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