TikTok recipes, a return to the great British summer of sport and TV hits such as Bridgerton and Squid Game all influenced what we bought in 2021.
Here is a month-by-month rundown of the trends that set the tills ringing.
Netflix’s raunchy period drama Bridgerton hit screens and then the UK’s wardrobes, houses and hobbies. The wisteria-clad mansion featured in the series sent eBay searches for the climber soaring by 300% on the year before, while searches shot up for ‘corsets’ (by 39%) and embroidery hoops (65%) as viewers attempted to re-create ‘Regencycore’ at home.
Meanwhile, BBC One’s The Serpent – based on the true story of killer Charles Sobhraj preying on travellers exploring the “hippie trail” across South Asia – sparked a rush for 1970s essentials such as ‘shagpile rugs’ and ‘halterneck tops’, up 24% and 158% respectively on eBay. John Lewis also reported a spike in searches for aviator sunglasses and sales of flared jeans.
Feta sales spiked across supermarkets as a TikTok craze from Finland went viral. The recipe involved baking a block of feta with cherry tomatoes, garlic and lashings of olive oil in a way no-one had ever thought of before.
The highly anticipated sixth series of Line Of Duty returned to screens and viewers welcomed back DI Steve Arnott, DI Kate Fleming and Superintendent Ted Hastings. eBay searches for ‘police woman outfit’ promptly spiked by 440%. John Lewis reported sales of waistcoats rose 114% between May and August.
The launch of Netflix show Seaspiracy saw sales of vegan fish products increasing by 29% on Ocado compared with the year before.
As news of food banks requiring more support hit the headlines, Ocado saw sales of non-perishable items such as dried pasta increase by 56%.
Donations from footballer Marcus Rashford, who partnered with food distribution charity FareShare over concerns that lockdown school closures could lead to millions of pupils going hungry, and his fans funded the distribution of food equivalent to more than 21 million meals, with two-thirds going to children and families.
After months of heartbreaking Covid-related delays, the UK’s brides could finally start tentatively planning – albeit small – celebrations. Singer Ariana Grande got married and prompted a 600% surge in searches on eBay for ‘blusher wedding veil’ after she posted pictures of her day.
Marcus Rashford released his book You Are A Champion: How To Be The Best You Can Be This Year, inspiring young children to go after their passions in life. Searches for the book shot up 274% during the release month in May as the footballer cemented his status as a national treasure.
Meanwhile, pesto sales rose by 108% at Waitrose in a single week after another TikTok recipe resulted in teenagers everywhere discovering their stovetops. Amy Wilichowski introduced her followers to the idea of replacing whatever cooking oil or butter you would usually use to fry an egg with pesto and no-one can understand how we existed without it until now.
Consumers celebrated the cautious lifting of Covid restrictions and the start of summer by sending sales of beer up 20% on the month prior at Ocado.
On television, the Friends Reunion created a wave of Nineties nostalgia. Journalist and author Dolly Alderton spotted a resemblance between Rachel Green’s dress in The One Where No One’s Ready and a green Whistles dress. Sales at John Lewis flew up by 400%.
The summer brought the moment we’d all been waiting for when Freedom Day arrived on July 19. As the nation prepared to reunite with family and friends, searches for ‘celebration’ shot up 30% on eBay compared to the previous month, while shoppers frantically hunted for essentials to host again at home and in their gardens come rain or shine with a 50% surge in searches for gazebos.
Jack Grealish was crowned the fans’ Euro 2020 favourite with a 526% increase in searches for ‘Grealish England Shirt’ in July alongside a 920% rise in searches for ‘It’s Coming Home Bucket Hat’.
With the postponed Tokyo Olympics finally taking place, shoppers looked to watch with friends and family at home, at bars and on holiday in support of Team GB. Searches soared by 1,240% for ‘Team GB Kit’ as Great Britain bagged a total of 65 medals at the Games.
The return of Wimbledon saw the comeback of strawberries and cream. Ocado noted a sales spike of 33% in the weeks of Wimbledon compared to the same weeks in the two months prior, and a 10% increase from 2019.
Ofgem confirmed it was allowing energy suppliers to increase bills for about 15 million households by at least £139 to a record high, due to a rise in wholesale prices.
Energy customers on default tariffs paying by direct debit were warned they would see the sharpest jump in prices since the cap was introduced, taking average bills to £1,277.
Smash hit Netflix survival drama Squid Game arrived on screens and eBay saw 38 searches every hour for boiler suit costumes and a 1,900% spike in the first week of airing as viewers sought to dress like its play-to-the-death characters.
James Bond returned in No Time To Die and the film’s premiere saw searches for 007’s on-screen Omega Seamaster 300 watch soar by 171%. Searches for “pink velvet blazer” also spiked 485% after Daniel Craig wore one to the film’s London premiere on September 28.
Likewise, the Duchess of Cambridge stole the spotlight on the red carpet, wearing a shimmering gold sequin cape dress to the premiere and sparking a 73% increase in searches for “gold sequin dress”.
Dwindling CO2 supplies prompted fears of a soft drinks shortage and concerns that abattoirs would not be able to use the gas to stun animals before slaughter.
Days later, petrol station forecourts ran dry as drivers rushed to fill up after a leaked government briefing warned about a shortage of fuel delivery drivers.
Cop26 might have grabbed headlines in October but eBay figures showed shoppers were purchasing more consciously all year round. Figures showed the number of customers buying a combination of new and used products on eBay UK has steadily increased over the past three years, up 12% from 2019, with 41% of eBay shoppers buying both new and used in 2021.
The return of Strictly Come Dancing had Britons glued to the TV on a Saturday night, with Ocado noticing a 20% increase in meal kit sales.
Christmas arrived but consumers were staying home to either avoid the latest instalment of Covid in order to protect family get-togethers on the big day or to recover from the virus.
John Lewis reported searches for dressing gowns were up 31%, slippers up 27% and pyjamas up 31% on the week before.
Ecommerce marketplace OnBuy saw a 197% increase in sales of artificial Christmas trees amid growing concerns over the climate crisis and following data from the Carbon Trust suggesting that having a fake tree can be better for the environment as long as it’s used for seven years.