Brits waste more than £16.6 billion buying things we under-use

Posted August 30, 2013 - Press Releases

• On average £650-worth of under-used products per home
• Chocolate fountain is the most regretted item bought for the home
• Londoners most guilty of making purchases to ‘keep up with the Joneses’

Find out how much money you’ve spent on under used items with our calculator.

It’s official: Britain is a nation of impulse shoppers, with an average of £650-worth(1) of under-used items(2) lingering in our homes. And the item we most regret buying? The chocolate fountain – regretted(3) by more than a quarter (27%) of Brits who own one.

When it comes to reasons for making purchases, the research, from Freeview, found that women are guiltier than men of impulse-buying to make them happy (43% vs 30%).
But it’s not just buying on impulse – more than one in ten of us (12%) admit to buying items to keep up with friends and colleagues, a trend that is most common in London (21%) and least in the South West (5%).

And, over half of the public (52%) buy to improve health and wellbeing or fitness – yet more than a fifth of those who have bought a fitness DVD (22%) regret doing so.

When it comes to curbing our spending habits, people tend to cut back on eating out (51%) and/or food and drink (35%) first.

But it’s not just household items that are going to waste – Brits are also under-using monthly subscriptions to gyms, magazines, TV and broadband.

Twice as many people (24%) are not pleased with or do not get regular use out of their TV service compared to those who subscribe to a broadband package (12%). Of these, 13% of people with pay-TV said they use it less than they thought they would and over one in ten (11%) said they regretted signing up or would reassess once contractually viable. However 19% of these people haven’t done so since taking up their contract.

Over a third of people (31%) under-use their personal trainer sessions but gym/fitness memberships are similarly under-used with 28% of people who have one saying that they use them less than they thought they would. Most people (13%) say they regret signing up for a personal trainer.

Guy North, Marketing Communications Director at Freeview, said: “With budgets tight, it’s fascinating to see that many people are still a little guilty of spending on things they don’t really need. Certainly, some products and services are of more benefit than others, and frequent reappraisal of subscription payments could be worthwhile to ensure you’re getting value for money.”

So what are we doing with all these under-used items? Three quarters (78%) of people agree they feel the need to de-clutter, and the most popular choice of those who do de-clutter is charity shops (72%). Some 40% of those who de-clutter sell their under-used products online, but almost as many (39%) throw items away.

Top ten most ‘regretted’ household items are:
1. Chocolate fountain (27% of those who own it)
2. Foot spa (23%)
3. Fitness DVDs (22%)
4. Fondue set (22%)
5. Digital photo frame (20%)
6. Pasta making set (18%)
7. Fruit juicer (18%)
8. Bread machine (17%)
9. Cocktail shaker (17%)
10. Sleep tracker monitor (17%)

Top ten ‘under-used’ items are:
1. Fitness DVDs (79%)
2. Foot spa (77%)
3. Chocolate fountain (75%)
4. Fondue set (75%)
5. Digital photo frame (70%)
6. Fruit juicer (69%)
7. Cocktail shaker (67%)
8. Exercise equipment (67%)
9. Self-help books (66%)
10. Pasta-making set (66%)

Find out how much money you’ve spent on under used items with our calculator.

About the research
(1)Price of items based on average costs available at a range of online retailers w/c 19.08.13. According to 2012 ONS figures, there are 25,500,000 households in Great Britain.
(2)From a list of 27 miscellaneous household items. ‘Under-used items’ classed as those respondents who say they either regret buying, or ‘use less than I thought I would’
(3)‘Regretted’ items classed as those respondents who say they regret buying the item

Research conducted by Populus amongst 2,028 GB adults (18yrs +) from 9th-11th August 2013

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