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Avoiding buyer's regret

How often do you make larger impulsive purchases? Most UK adults make seven impulse purchases, costing £150-1500 each, every year. Find out how long you should wait, according to mathematician Bobby Seagull, before you buy to avoid buyer’s regret. Plus, try our cost per use calculator to help you weigh up your spending decisions.

Our research asked 4,000* UK adults about how they spend. Despite nearly half of people saying they feel good when they shop around and get a good deal, they also reported making seven large impulse purchases each year on average, that tots up to at least £1,050 annually. We also found that:

We teamed up with mathematician Bobby Seagull who developed two formulas: one to help you work out how long you should wait before buying something, and another to show how much something might cost you to use over time. Try them out below to help avoid buying something you’ll regret later.

*Vanquis commissioned Censuswide to survey 4,000 UK adults in July 2023 among a sample of 4,000 18+ Nationally representative consumers. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct which is based on the ESOMAR principles. The average regretted purchase spend per year is £183.84 based on the research. The UK adult population (18+) is 52,890,444 according to latest figures from Censuswide (which come from ONS midyear estimates 2021). This means that based on this research, it is estimated that £9,723,080,906.27 or £9.7 billion a year has been spent on regretted purchases by the nation.

How long should I wait to avoid buyer's regret?

Bobby used the research data to work out exactly how long to wait between finding something you want and buying it, to best avoid buyer’s regret. On average, he found waiting at least two days and 21 hours should do the trick.

The wait time varies across different types of the most commonly purchased larger items. Select one below to see how long you should wait.

9% of people who bought a phone regretted it within the year, largely because they felt they’d spent too much on it.

Work out the
'cost-per-use' before you buy

Work out the 'cost-per-use' before you buy

Use the simple calculator below to consider how much a purchase could cost you over time, depending on how much you’ll use it. For example, if you buy a hoover for £120 and use it daily for 2 years, it would have cost you 16p per use.

Generally, the less something costs to use the better value it is. Bobby developed a formula to find out which commonly purchased items usually have the lowest cost per use. Unsurprisingly, household items that people use every day like freezers, fridges and hoovers offer the most value based on how much they cost and how regularly they’re used. When it comes to spending on experiences, like tickets and trips away, these are often a one-off event so have a high cost of use. Despite this, they’re the least regretted purchase, suggesting the value of these isn't about pounds and pence.

Calculate the 'cost per use' of your purchase

We’ve created a simple calculator that helps you consider how much a purchase costs you over time depending on how much you’ll use it. For example, if you buy a hoover for £120 and use it daily for 2 years, it would have cost you 16p per use.

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Here’s the cost per use, showing how it changes depending on how long you’ll continue to use it

6 months = £9.62 per use
1 year = £4.80 per use
2 years = £2.40 per use
5 years = £0.96 per use
10 years = £0.48 per use