Survey: People weigh in on their best home-related purchases during COVID-19

Key takeaways

  • 52% of people reported spending more on home-related purchases during 2020 than the year prior.
  • Air fryers were the top appliance people reported buying during the pandemic.
  • Improving home comfort was the top reason people reported for making home-related purchases.
  • 27.1% of people said they went over budget on home-related purchases during COVID-19.
Surveys

Many people are becoming better acquainted with their home than ever before thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders. There's nothing like a little quality time with something to realize its flaws. All this time staring at the same blank walls and sitting on the same old sofa has driven a surge in home-related spending.

For some, home improvement meant it was time to upgrade that couch and replace their '90s decor. Others have become so tired of home chores and maintenance during the pandemic that they're willing to buy their way out of the work with new cleaning devices. To learn more about what home-related purchases people had made since COVID-19's onset, we surveyed over 1,000 people about their spending before and during the health crisis. We asked them how their spending had changed and where they were investing the bulk of their home-related budget. We also uncovered who had regrets and who'd splurged on their most recent purchases. Keep reading to see what we found out.

How COVID-19 changed the way we spend

Spending on the home during COVID-19

Being homebound appears to have significantly increased spending on home-related purchases. Over half of respondents (52%) said they spent more on home-related purchases this year than last year. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, people spent almost $1,350 on home-related purchases, on average. Men spent slightly more than women, averaging about $270 more.

The bulk of home-related spending (nearly $634, on average) was on furniture, which could be partially due to work-from-home orders forcing people to sort out home offices in a pinch. The pandemic forced nearly three-quarters of workers between the ages of 18 and 74 to start working from home, according to a LinkedIn and USA Today joint survey. Since 54% of people didn't have a remote work setup before the pandemic, this likely meant a lot of office furniture needed to be bought.

The second largest spending category, at just over $540 spent, on average, were appliances, likely driven in part by the surge in home cooking during the pandemic. Shelter-in-place orders and restaurant closures have prompted an increase in home dining. More than half of consumers reported doing more home cooking since the pandemic and nearly half reported baking more.

The rooms we're redecorating the most

Where in the home people are investing their money

To see exactly where in the home people are spending, we drilled down into each of these spending categories. Furniture, for instance, is a broad category. While the surge in home offices suggests people were likely spending on office furniture, we wanted to investigate whether this was the case.

While almost 38% of respondents purchased home office furniture since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the most common room for furniture spending was actually the living room – with the bedroom not far behind. People may have felt forced to upgrade their home office, but they wanted to upgrade their living spaces even more. Given TV watching and online streaming surged during lockdown, it's no surprise folks wanted to update their sofas.

They also wanted to update their decor. Millennials, in particular, chose to invest in home decor during the pandemic. About 45% of our respondents invested in new lighting and candles, and nearly 43% purchased organizers, like baskets and storage boxes. Folks were also investing more money in seasonal decorations, perhaps as they turn to holiday decorating to offset pandemic-related gloom.

Home appliances, the second-largest spending category during COVID-19, is another broad category. Which home appliances were people buying the most? According to our survey, the appliance purchased most during the pandemic was an air fryer – over 15% of respondents said they'd invested in one during this time. This isn't surprising given healthier cooking from home has been on the rise since the start of COVID-19. Instant Pots were also commonly bought although considerably less often than air fryers. Just under 11% of respondents indicated they'd purchased an Instant Pot during the pandemic.

While air fryers were the most popular appliance purchase overall during the pandemic, each gender had its own favorite expenditure. For men, microwaves were the most popular appliance purchase, while women were more likely to buy upright vacuums. It's also worth noting fans and smart home products, like Amazon's Alexa, were almost equally popular purchases.

Why we buy what we buy

The why behind the buy

There is nothing like stay-at-home orders to give us a reason to invest in home improvements. Since most of us have been forced to turn vacations into staycations, many have opted to spend vacation money on home improvements. Over 57% of respondents said the main reason they made home-related purchases during the pandemic was to improve their home comfort. This was by far the largest driver of home-related purchases. People also opted to make home-related purchases to change up their home atmosphere (37.9%), but comfort was a far more common reason for a purchase.

For those who made home-related purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping was by far the most common shopping method. This is hardly surprising given social distancing orders. Online spending was popular before COVID-19, and it appears it's here to stay: Online shopping across all categories is expected to grow 15% to 30% in most categories post-pandemic. More surprising is the fact that even during COVID-19, over one-third of home-related purchases involved an in-store visit. Only about 7% of shoppers used curbside pickup, and less than 1% placed a phone order.

Interestingly, while people spent more on home-related purchases during the pandemic, their purchases weren't necessarily made because of the pandemic. Less than 28% of respondents said their purchase was made due to the pandemic. Slightly more people (nearly 31%) had already planned on making their home-related purchase before the health crisis began.

Buyer's remorse and overspending

Satisfaction with home-related purchases

By and large, people were happy with their COVID-19 home-related purchases – about 95% reported satisfaction. That said, they may have been less pleased with the impact their purchase had on their wallet. Over 15% of spenders felt some buyer's remorse after their purchase, with women being more likely than men to report regret.

Over 27% of respondents went over budget on their home-related purchases during the pandemic, spending nearly $250 more, on average, than people who stayed within their budget. Increased spending appears to be another side effect of COVID-19. Weekly online shopping has risen by 10% since COVID-19, which could prove a dangerous habit given that one-fifth of Americans plan to splurge after the health crisis subsides.

Protecting your new purchases

It's fun to upgrade your living spaces. With pandemic-related lockdowns driving us increasingly indoors, we all deserve to indulge in a little home improvement to make our home as hospitable as possible. Although, while the pandemic is increasing home appliance use, it's also making it harder to get in-home repair when an appliance breaks down.

This is where Cinch Home Services comes in. We offer protection plans starting at $27.99 per month and on-demand repair services for as little as $79 per service call. With a Cinch Home Services protection plan, we'll send a verified service pro to you whenever something breaks. Unlike other home warranties, our plans cover components and parts, including knobs, doors and drawers. We also provide easy-to-read plan documents so you never have to wonder what's covered. When you sign up for a plan, we'll give you a $25 credit to use on filters for your A/C and fridge, as well as a free water sensor to help you detect leaks. With adequate appliance protection, you can feel good about those pandemic-era purchases knowing your new appliance is protected.

Methodology

We surveyed 1,021 people about the home-related purchases they've made since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Respondents were 51.1% women and 48.4% men. Three respondents were nonbinary, one was transgender and one respondent chose not to disclose their gender. The average age of respondents was 39.3 with a standard deviation of 12.5 years.uat

All averages were calculated to exclude outliers. This was done by finding the initial average of the data and the standard deviation. The latter was then multiplied by three and added to the initial average. Any data point above that sum was excluded from the final average calculation.

Questions about the rooms people bought furniture for, the home decor people purchased, and the reasons for making home-related purchases were asked as check-all-that-apply questions. Therefore, percentages won't add to 100.

Limitations

The data we are presenting rely on self-report. There are many issues with self-reported data. These issues include, but are not limited to, the following: selective memory, telescoping, attribution and exaggeration.

Fair use statement

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