Curse or blessing? Revenge shopping as the return of the “Golden Twenties”

People queuing up at retail stores and generating record sales for the fashion industry - but how sustainable is the post-Covid consumerism?

LVMH Store Revenge Shopping

Author: Vivien Vollmer

Shops are reopening and people are returning to their usual shopping habits. Not quite. Because what the fashion industry is currently experiencing is downright consumerism. Queues of people draw the current picture of city centres, as the excessive consumption brings fashion brands record sales. Anna Wintour describes it in an interview with the Financial Times, as the return of the "Roaring Twenties", a period of economic boom after the First World War. Good for industry, but also good for the environment? Find out what drives people to buy revenge and the possible effects on the environment.

Revenge shopping compensates for pent-up emotions

Due to the pandemic, our habits have adapted to new living conditions - especially our fashion habits were drastically restricted by the new circumstances. With home office, most of our purchases made in 2020 were purely practical. Increased easing of the situation now clearly shows how serious the effects of the pandemic have been on the consumer behavior .

After a year of quarantine and lock-down, consumers are now actively looking for ways to make up for their lost time. The pent-up emotions arouse a strong desire to spend money on non-essential products that they had previously had to live without.

This phenomenon is known as "revenge shopping" and concerns consumers who compensate the lock-down phase with increased spendings. By this way, customers take revenge for the long period of privation through intensive purchases, especially of luxury items, in order to compensate for the "lack of luxury" they experienced. So luxury brands such as Gucci, Hermès and Chanel are now the big beneficiaries of this new shopping behaviour.

Record sales are now spilling from China to the USA and Europe

The trend of revenge shopping started off in China, where luxury brands have been experiencing an increase in customers for months. WWD reported that on the day of reopening, in the flagship store of the luxury house Hermès in Guangzhou, generated approximately $ 2,7 million in sales. This figure was taken from the fashion brand .

The revenge shopping phenomenon is also coming the US - according to CNBC retail sales in department stores has increased by around 28% compared to March last year. In its first quarter LVMH reported a sales increased by 52% for fashion and leather goods, while sales of Hermès experienced growth rates of 44% and Kering,, which includes Balenciaga and Gucci, were up around 26%.

Revenge shopping as an ongoing phenomenon

According to current forecasts, revenge shopping is not a short term effect, but will rater last for a while. Kristen Gall, retail expert and president of Rakuten Rewards, explains in an interview with the FashionUnitedthat the willingness of consumers to spend a lot of money and pay higher prices remains after the pandemic, but over time price sensitivity will normalise again and align with consumer behaviour before the pandemic.

Revenge purchases are also seen in Europe. The German market research institute GfK forecasts an increase of the consumer climate index from minus 23 points in May 2020 to minus 0,3 points in July 2021, the highest value since August 2020. According to the report, consumer confidence would brighten up, expecting a noticeable recovery in consumption.

Revenge shopping vs. sustainability

While revenge shopping enables optimistic forecasts from an economic point of view, sustainability experts warn of negative and sometimes even worse consequences for the planet and the environment. Before the pandemic, the fashion industry was already accounting for 10% of global CO2 emissions, unsustainable production, waste and water pollution are responsible. Revenge shopping is deeply rooted in human psychology. Because revenge purchases help to overcome crises. Revenge shopping explains itself as a compensation for the imagined loss through excessive consumption.

But as satisfying as the fleeting purchase of revenge can be, it is just as disastrous for the idea of ​​sustainability. Since overconsumption is completely opposite to the slowly advancing sustainability movement of the fashion industry, which rather relies on conscious behaviour. However, there are some ways to make even revenge-shopping sustainably. First of all, sustainability marketing needs to target consumer education.

Making revenge shopping sustainable

1. Thrift shopping

Since revenge shopping is a product of the human psyche, experts recommend to understand if the impulsive purchases can lead to a lasting feeling of happiness. If the need for compensation persists, people can rather invest in second-hand fashion. With the current sustainability movement in the industry, numerous second-hand companies have emerged, which also offer luxury fashion and accessories. While the fashion landscape is constantly changing some high-end second-hand platforms offer an exclusive shopping experience for conscious consumers. Characterised by the idea of ​​sustainability, New Luxury enables circular economy, with extended life cycles and zero waste .

revenge shopping

Source & Copyright by Vestiaire Collective

2. Rent clothes

Another option to spice up your wardrobe without harming the environment is renting clothes. What is already a tried and tested method for stars and VIPs is reaching more and more consumers, who want to oppose overconsumption. There are a number of advantages for renting clothing - on the one hand, it minimises the CO2 footprintand on the other hand, it protects the consumer from mispurchase, which are particularly caused by impulsive shopping. It can be the case that when you buy revenge you rashly buy products that either don't fit or you don't really like. If you borrow them, however, they can easily be returned and passed on to other consumers.

3. Invest in seasonless fashion

The most sustainable are the garments that can be worn over a longer period of time. If you want to indulge in the feeling of revenge shopping, you should therefore be careful not to follow trends, but rather invest in seasonless fashion . High quality and timeless designs enable longevity and are sustainable.

Julia Leifert

Source & Copyright by Julia Leifert - Timeless & Sustainable

All in all, consumer behaviour was significantly influenced by the pandemic. Revenge shopping is a logical consequence of a long period of renunciation and has a decisive influence on the current fashion landscape. Even if impulsive purchases are contrary to the guiding principle of sustainability, revenge shopping can also be done consciously and thus be sustainable.


Always informed about the latest lifestyle trends, architecture, design & interior, as well as current technologies around sustainability.

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