In Depth

Pink shirts, egg cups and blow-up flamingos: what Brits are buying in 2017

Department store John Lewis releases annual report into what’s hot and what’s not

John Lewis has released its fifth annual retail report, revealing what customers have been searching for and buying in 2017.

Perhaps most surprisingly, searches for “unicorn” rose by 70% and sales of mermaid-themed items rose by 22%, while novelty blow-up items like flamingos, watermelons and pineapples powered a 99% increase in pool inflatable sales, according to Retail Week.

A spokesperson for the store said that they believed the increased interest in quirky items reflected a need for escapism in a time of economic uncertainty and political upheaval.

“A touch of the exotic and the fantastic helped people escape from the serious side of life,” the spokesperson told The Guardian.

It has often been reported that Brits increasingly prefer staying in and watching Netflix to going out on the town, and the sales figures certainly seem to support that - cosy items like egg cups, record players, teapots and avocado slicers all enjoyed a boost in sales in 2017.

However, in bad news for anyone with a health freak friend to buy for at Christmas, vegetable spiralisers are out. The must-have kitchen gadget of 2016 has seen a 40% drop in sales this year. E-readers and sat-navs were also on the out this year, although sales of newer tech must-haves like wireless headphones have soared.

When it came to “in” colours, 2017 was the year Britain fell in love with “millennial pink”. Sales of men’s pink T-shirts skyrocketed by 74%, while sales of pink women’s jackets rose by 55%.

The dusky, beige-tinged shade - helpfully described by Glamour as “the top tier of the Grand Budapest Hotel” - is all the rage right now. Last month, cookware brand Le Creuset announced it was introducing a “millennial pink” range to capitalise on its popularity with younger shoppers.

Bright yellow was also experiencing a surge in popularity, which the report links to the eye-catching yellow frock worn by Emma Stone in her Oscar-winning turn in La La Land.

However, it's been an underwhelming year for 1980s-style “power suits”. Shoulderpads and double-breasted blazers have been a hallmark of this year’s catwalks, but as with many fashion trends they have proven a harder sell in real-life, with sales of office suits down 10% on last year.

Peter Cross, director of customer experience at John Lewis, said the report shows that “how we shop continues to change at pace”.

"Five years on, this report is as intriguing as ever - as much for highlighting what we bought as highlighting what we haven’t,” he said.

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