• Americans spent hundreds of dollars per household on pandemic purchases – products that comforted them through Covid lockdowns
  • Over a third (34%) of Americans purchased things they wouldn’t otherwise if Covid hadn’t been happening – including fitness equipment, home tattoo kits, painting sets, board games and even pets
  • Almost two thirds (64%[ii]) of those people now aren’t using those purchases frequently and they’re taking up space in their homes

Research from Emarsys reveals this plus more, including what pandemic purchasing habits mean for spending in 2022, and the brand’s second annual unPredictions report

January, 2022Rapid tests aren’t the only thing people have been buying throughout the pandemic. New research from retail technology company Emarsys reveals over one third[1] of respondents (34%) bought things that they likely wouldn’t have if Covid never came about – with fitness equipment, comfy clothing and painting sets topping the table when it came to pandemic purchasing.

Pandemic Purchasing

In a bid to further understand consumer spending behavior, SAP-owned customer engagement specialist Emarsys dug into purchasing motives, revealing a third (33%) of respondents made purchases because they needed a mood boost during lockdown. Other reasons for pandemic purchases were a way to keep busy (32%), be more self-sufficient with the extra time in lockdown (22%) and try something for the first time (20%).

In addition to fitness equipment which 70% of us purchased, with top items being exercise bikes (17%), yoga mats (17%), treadmills (15%) and free weights (15%), cheer-chasing consumers also sought out paints and paintbrushes (23%), loungewear (18%), board games (16%), matching pajama sets (12%), wearable blankets (9%), home tattoo kits (7%), and llama sponsorships (2%).

On average, those who made these pandemic purchases spent $79[iii] on loungewear, $131 on home tattoo kits, $224 on llama sponsorships, $265[iv] on fitness equipment and $313 on hot tubs.

Meghann York, Global Head of Product Marketing at Emarsys says: “Immediate gratification and a yearning for self-improvement undeniably influenced consumer shopping habits in 2021. As we grapple with entering the third year of COVID-19, it’s crucial for retailers to understand that consumers’ purchasing behaviors and expectations are evolving, both in terms of the products they buy and the experiences they desire both online and in-store.”

As the old adage goes – “new year, new me” – 28% [v]of respondents admitted they no longer have time to use the products they bought and confessed these purchases were only going to be used for a short time.

What This Means For 2022

Eager to bring back a sense of normalcy, nearly half (43%) of us will be looking to spend more money on social outings, like restaurant trips and vacations, in 2022. We’re also throwing money down on furry companions (13%), knife sets (11%), new homes (11%), robot vacuums (8%).

When it comes to consumer expectations towards retailers this year, nearly half (48%) of us are hoping for good deals and offers, while 30% are seeking seamless shopping experiences both online and in-store.

It’s worth noting that just one in four (25%) respondents are seeking more in store shopping this year, which means all eyes are still on the digital relationship between retailers and shoppers. Ensuring online interactions are meaningful, personalized and contextually interesting is crucial in cultivating a well-rounded customer experience.

Furthermore, research revealed that while email is 46% of respondents preferred contact method, 16% would rather be reached by SMS text message. Moreover, 66% of people who prefer contact by SMS text message like brands contacting them via text message even after they have received their order.

York continues: “2021 was a rollercoaster and our purchases reflect that. In times of confusion and unrest, we seek not just comfort and stability, but meaning and fulfilment. We swapped our suits for sweatsuits, picked up new hobbies, and invested our time and money in items that sparked joy and cultivated contentment. In 2022, as a nation we’re hoping to get off that rollercoaster and exchange physical possessions for experiences, as well as take more time and care in our purchasing decisions.”

Emarsys conducted this research to help its customers better understand their customers, and it’s been released alongside Emarsys’ unPredictions: Commerce Marketing Priorities Powering 2022, to help marketers build and scale personalized campaigns that will drive engagement and bolster the customer experience.

The unPredictions report, which instead of looking at flashy predictions and trends looks at actionable advice for marketers, is released this week and can be downloaded here: https://emarsys.com/learn/white-papers/commerce-marketing-priorities-powering-2022/.

Top 10 Items Bought During the Pandemic

  1. Fitness equipment[vi] (70%)
  2. Paints and paintbrushes (23%)
  3. Loungewear (18%)
  4. Board games (16%)
  5. A pet (14%)
  6. Canvases (14%)
  7. Home nail kit/gel lamp (14%)
  8. Jigsaw puzzles (13%)
  9. Reading or sleeping pillow (13%)
  10. Baking set (12%)

Top 5 Interesting Items Bought During the Pandemic

  • Home tattoo kit (7%)
  • Hot tub (5%)
  • Butter churn (4%)
  • Pinball machine (4%)
  • Sponsoring a llama (2%)


Opinion Matters, Emarsys, 2,060 USA General Respondents, December 2021

[ii] “Yes – I use it sometimes”, “No – I use it during the pandemic but not so much now” and “No – I never use it” answers combined

[iii] Figures reported in GBP and converted to USD on 01/13/2022 using 1 GBP = 1.37 USD

[iv] Respondents who bought the fitness equipment listed spent $265, on average

[v] Respondents who answered “I bought the items knowing it would be a short-term hobby” (19%) and “I don’t have time to use the items I purchased”(11%)

[vi] Figures combine stats for purchasing an exercise bike (17.02%), free weights / dumb bells (15.46%), treadmill (15.18%), yoga matt (16.88%) and crosstrainer (5.67%)