Buyer’s Remorse: The Guilt That Comes From Shopping

I have been thinking about buyer’s remorse recently and whether I ever feel it. To be honest I don’t think I’ve ever felt it when buying an expensive item. But, I’m sure in the past I’ve regretted buying some items of clothing. Now I tend to feel it when I buy something that has come from a fast fashion brand.

What is buyer’s remorse?

Buyer’s remorse is the feeling of regret you may experience after buying something. It is normally associated with an expensive purchase. Various factors may cause the remorse such as how much has been invested and if it is an emotional purchase (as a response to something else happening in your life).

You may also experience remorse because the item was bought prematurely, bought using borrowed money, it may not be acceptable to the people around you or it was bought in an ethically unsound way. Quite often it is also felt when the buyer begins to question whether they really need it.

Before making a purchase there is always a feeling of heightened excitement and a rush of enjoyment. Many people experience a kind of thrill. However, afterwards once the purchase has been made this is when negative emotions start to arise. Before buying something there is a should I/ shouldn’t I feeling but afterwards your only options are to keep the item you have bought or admit it was a mistake and return it.

Note: I do think it is important to distinguish between ‘normal’ buyer’s remorse and a deeper, more complex ‘shopaholic’ behaviour.

Regret from fast fashion

I thought that it would be interesting to conduct my own poll to see how many people experience buyer’s remorse. Is any of the remorse linked to shopping from fast fashion brands? I asked over on my Instagram and here are the results.

As you can see, the first question I asked is have you ever felt buyer’s remorse. A staggering 78% of people said yes to this. I went on to enquire whether people had ever felt guilt buying fast fashion. Half of the responses said yes. It is important to note that I did receive messages saying that the only reason they don’t experience guilt buying fast fashion is because they don’t buy it. I am with the 50% of people who do feel guilty shopping fast fashion. While I tend to stay away from it, if there is something that I really love and I know I will get the wear out of then I will buy it. Thinking about it now, I should have asked what the item was that they felt regret over. It would have been interesting to see if it was an item of clothing or a big purchase e.g a car.





I have felt this recently with a dress I bought from Zara. I have to say I’ve only ever bought two items from Zara, this dress and a pair of jeans. While Life’s a Catwalk charts my journey to shopping more sustainably I feel a fraud if I buy something from a fast fashion brand. I also feel like I shouldn’t be posting the item on social media because it makes me some kind of hypocrite and I will be judged. I can’t call myself a sustainable fashion blogger if I’m shopping from fast fashion brands.

However, I do think that people can be quick to judge and no one is perfect. This blog is about trying to make small changes and make more considered purchases. Even though I was influenced by TikTok to buy the dress, I left it just over four weeks before I bought it. This gave me plenty of time to really think about whether I wanted and needed it. I think that impulse purchases can be a big source of regret.

Have you ever felt buyer’s remorse? What did you regret purchasing? I’d love to know!

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