Brits could avoid ‘buyer’s remorse’ as a new mathematical formula reveals the exact amount of time to wait before making a significant purchase.

Research found that: 

  • UK adults make seven impulse purchases of £150-£1,500 each year – spending £9.7 billion collectively on items they regret2 3
  • Brits are most likely to regret buying bikes, footwear, cosmetics, and games consoles

TV mathematician Bobby Seagull has teamed up with us at Vanquis to reveal shoppers should wait at least two days and 21 hours on average between finding an item they want to buy and deciding to spend.

Bobby developed two formulas: one to help people work out how long they should wait before buying something, and another to show how much something might cost to use over time. The formula can be tested out here.

The formula has been developed in response to our new Vanquis study which found Brits make seven large spontaneous purchases of between £150 and £1,500 each year – spending at least £1,050 annually on impulse shopping4 and costing the nation £9.7 billion in total on regretted items.3 Gen Z is most likely to buy without deliberation with an average of 14 impulse buys totalling at least £2,100 a year. 5

Across the nation, bikes (19%), footwear (19%), cosmetics/beauty treatments (17%), and games consoles/gadgets (17%) are the top items which people most regret buying. Four in 10 (38%) regret buying a bike due to lack of use, 38% say they only brought shoes as they were fashionable at the time, and one in five (21%) say their games console was too expensive for what it is.

Half of people (50%) say they spend impulsively because they enjoy treating themselves and a third (31%) make spontaneous purchases to make themselves feel better.  With three in five people reporting that the cost-of-living crisis has negatively impacted their mental health over the last year, being aware of how this could impact spending behaviour, such as impulse buying, may help consumers, particularly as the cost of living remains high. 6

When it comes to purchases people are pleased with, Brits are least likely to regret spending money on and holidays and weekends away (6%). Suggesting experiences are usually seen as a more rewarding investment than new possessions.

The least regretted possessions were items such as kitchen accessories (8%), washing machines (9%), phones (9.5%) and TV's (9.6%). 

The cost per use formula developed by Bobby Seagull looks at the value of the item versus how often it's used, an item with a lower cost per use is better value for money. Household items such as hoovers, fridges and freezers unsuprisingly have some of the lowest  cost per uses. 

These Vanquis mindful spending tools aim to help people make more informed spending decisions, as around half (49%) of Brits claim they feel good about getting a good deal when they spend. People can find out the exact time to wait before making a purchase for each different category of item (from shoes to holidays) and test out the cost per use formula for themselves at

TV mathematician and National Numeracy ambassador Bobby Seagull commented:

"At a time when every penny counts, it’s important for consumers to think twice before they buy, to ensure they are getting the most value out of their money."

“I’ve created some simple formulas aiming to help consumers make more considered financial decisions. For example, in partnership with Vanquis, I’ve calculated that anyone about to make an impulse purchase should wait two days and 21 hours before buying, rather than purchasing straight away, to reduce the chance of regretting their purchase later.”

Fiona Anderson, Managing Director of Cards at Vanquis also commented: “We know that people want to get the most of out of their spending, so the fact that experiences are the least regretted purchases shows that quality time with loved ones is considered a worthwhile investment for many."

“We want to help people make considered financial decisions and avoid making larger purchases impulsively, particularly when it comes to higher cost per use items like bikes, clothes, and garden items, during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis."

“Through working with mathematician Bobby Seagull, we hope we can offer consumers some easy ways to be more mindful about some of their spending.”

Bobby and Fiona have spent this morning on the radio talking about our research and how people can avoid buyer’s regret. Keep an eye on our socials on Instagram and Facebook for an update from Bobby as well.


1 Mathematician and National Numeracy Ambassador Bobby Seagull modelled data supplied by Censuswide to create two Mindful Spending formulas. The first formula found people should wait 69.7 hours between finding an item and deciding to purchase it, to avoid regretting their purchase. The second formula calculated the individual cost per use across 21 different purchasing categories.

2 Unless otherwise stated, 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.

3 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. This means that 9,723,080,906.27 or 9.7 billion has been spent on regretted purchases by the nation.

4UK adults make 7 impulse purchases of £150 or more per year = 7 x £150 = £1,050.

5 Gen Z make 14 impulse purchases of £150 or more per year = 14 x £150 = £2,100

6 Survey of 8,000 UK adults healthier-nation-index-report-2023.pdf​​​​​​