Revenge buying: Are you getting a list together of all the things you don’t really need?

When the shops reopen in the middle of June get ready for mayhem and carnage

When Covid-19 hit our shores many selfish people rushed out to stock up on essentials such as bog roll and pasta; in just over two weeks’ time expect similar craziness… only this time we will be buying things we don’t really need when the shops reopen. Why? Because we can!

There’s even a term for it: Revenge buying. Revenge buying describes the sudden increase in sales of inessential goods after a period of restriction, such as with the shops being closed due to the lockdown. Basically, it can be viewed as the reverse of panic buying – people tend to stock up on essential items in a panic, but splurge on luxury items after a restriction in an indulgent spree.

I have a word or two of advice. Just because many shops will reopen on June 15, give it a few days before you attempt to venture into them. People will forget all the good they have achieved through social distancing. It could be a case of mayhem at the mall.

The scene in a Thai shopping mall after they were allowed to reopen a week ago. Admittedly, a lot of the ‘scrum’ is due to shoppers having to go through disinfection and temperature checks.

I have seen pictures of what has happened elsewhere when the shopping malls were allowed to reopen. They were not pretty sights. Lord knows how mall security people and/or the police will cope if called upon. Sure, the economy needs us to all get spending again and I wouldn’t wish to discourage you from indulging in some retail therapy. But do you really need a full-length leather coat with summer just around the corner? Are your six handbags not enough? Do you really need to stock up on aftershave in case you don’t get to go through duty free on your way to/from a holiday this year? Is the TV’s sound system truly knackered?

It’s the birthday of a family member on the 18th. This got me thinking about buying a card given I expect the card shops to be open on or after the 15th. But I’m concerned that it might be too much of a fight to get to the shop never mind inside. And then there’s the thing of queuing up to buy a stamp. He’ll have to settle for a Skype/Zoom/Facetime message I think.

Of course, a by-product of any shopping frenzy (look at Christmas) is the amount of rubbish in the shape of discarded packaging we will generate. This has prompted a waste management company to declare that UK businesses are not ready for June’s “revenge buying” spree describing it as “carnage”.

According to waste management company BusinessWaste.co.uk , the lure of “in person” purchases as non-essential shops reopen next month will clear the shelves, but lead to massive increases in unnecessary waste. Shoppers are going to rush out and buy trashy and unnecessary goods the moment lockdown ends – just because they can.

Company spokesman Mark Hall says: “With more people hitting the shops and ‘revenge buying’, there is going to be a knock-on effect of more waste being produced by retailers. People were splurging and panic-buying at the mere thought of shops closing earlier this year, when they reopen people will be rushing out to spend just because they can again – it will be carnage. The key part of this is that the items being bought are not essential, they are usually luxury items such as expensive clothes and household goods.

“People will spend their money to ‘reward’ and ‘treat’ themselves for getting through the tough conditions of the lockdown, so as soon as people feel safe and the shops reopen, the spending will begin.”

This has already been happening in China, with floods of shoppers returning to malls spending their money on luxury items, with some saying that being able to shop again gives them a sense of freedom. But the lack of open shops hasn’t put off serious shoppers, as online spending has reached a record high accounting for 30% of all UK sales.

More shopping means more waste

If the UK follows the trend seen in China of revenge buying, then this means that there will be an increase in waste created by high street retailers who will be ordering supplies to fill up their shelves in preparation.

Dr Liz Breen from the University of Bradford is an expert in supply and demand, and she warns to prepare supply chains for similar impact here in the UK as was seen in the Far East. Click on the link to reveal her thoughts in the Yorkshire Post.

“Retailers and local councils need to be ready and have extra collections in place in preparation for this surge of sales,” says Hall.

Show More

David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

Related Articles