I Did A Lot Of Online Shopping During The Pandemic. Here Are All My Impulse Buys, Ranked

If you’ve also been hitting Confirm Purchase more than you’d like during lockdown, I’ve got your back.
By Monica Heisey
An illustration of a woman looking out of her window at a pile of online shopping with funny store names. (Illustration: LeeAndra Cianci)

It's been a long pandemic, hasn't it? We’ve all found ways to cope, but, 18 months on, “a daily walk” just isn’t cutting it anymore. To that end, I have developed something of an online shopping problem—and based on friends’ frantic texts about Zara’s returns policy, I am not alone. I’ve bought underwear I’ve needed forever, edible glitter, a back massager, a “back massager” and, one long dark night, an at-home wax kit that did...not work. Not all my online purchases are created equal.

So, if you’ve also been hitting Confirm Purchase more than you’d like during lockdown, I’ve got your back. Here is a definitive hierarchy of online impulse buys, from least to most useless.

Didn’t technically need this but...I’m supporting a small business! A woman-owned business! And it’s vintage, fair trade and packaged in And some of the profits go toward a good cause, like animals. By buying this quilted jacket, I am basically saving the lives of several turtles. I had to!

Aspirational items Absolutely, we should all be curbing our online shopping habits. But should we not also be exercising more? Doing yoga? Owning those little blue ice globes you move around your face to make it tight and perfect? My thoughts exactly. Anxiety splurges Nothing takes the edge off that “I want to go outside and can’t tell if that’s safe or not” feeling like staying indoors and hitting Purchase on a billowy blouse or long-coveted pair of Fashion Sandals™ that are deeply out of one’s price range. Sure, when they arrive and you’re struck with the full force of the money you spent on run-of-the-mill espadrilles, you’ll want to return them. But then you’re back at the question of safety, and it’s time to self-soothe by buying something new.

Obvious whoopsies What’s going on with bathing suits is out of my grasp, and no amount of frenetically emptying and refilling online shopping carts is going to bring me closer to understanding why they stopped making the backs and sides. Likewise, it is not possible to acquire the following items online: jeans, sunglasses, experimental lipstick and lingerie. Does knowing this stop me from trying? No. And I think that’s kind of beautiful.

Enormous amount of assorted garbage I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but anything you bought while PMSing has got to go.


Subscribe to our newsletters for our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.