The pandemic impulse purchases we grew to hate

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Marta Crilly has come to despise her outdoor patio heater. She bought it in the late summer of 2020, hoping it would allow her to host some outdoor gatherings before the Boston winter really hit. “It wasn’t honestly that warm, but it was better than nothing,” she says. At least it was an excuse to get people over. In the summer of 2021, she decided to get rid of it — she figured there’d still be a market for it, since Covid-19 was still with us, as would soon be the Boston cold.

Turns out nobody wanted it. She’s been trying to sell the device and even give it away for nearly a year, and she’s had absolutely zero bites. In the Buy Nothing group she’s in, all anyone would have to do is come pick it up. “Nobody’s even interested,” says Crilly, an archivist for the city of Boston. “People don’t even like the post.”

Crilly is hardly alone. Plenty of people are sitting around their houses and apartments, weighing their pandemic purchases — sometimes the house or apartment itself — and wondering, “Huh, what was I thinking?” Consider it a Covid-specific flavor of buyer’s remorse.

When in distress, a lot of consumers are inclined to throw money at their problems. During the early days of the pandemic especially, there was all this pressure to better ourselves, or at least channel our energy somewhere, which in our society often translates to buying stuff.


https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/UkzwJQ68dPElW9AYqyGbOORcVRs=/0x0:3600x2144/920x613/filters:focal(1954x343:2530x919):format(webp)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/71177779/GettyImages_1228142708.0.jpgAmid the Covid-19 pandemic social distancing and mask-wearing restrictions and requirements, beach-goers take a boat ride with their dogs on a sunny summer day off Santa Catalina Island, California, on August 11, 2020.Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images



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