5 most unusual things people bought online in 2020

By Tara McCabe ·

From toilet paper alternatives to rare diamonds, 2020 sure has inspired some interesting purchases. With most of the year spent tucked away at home, many turned to online shopping for some light relief. While some merely window scrolled, others laid out money for some pretty pricey and sometimes unusual items.

We’ve rounded up a list of some of the most unusual and expensive things people bought online in 2020. 

Bidets make a splash

If you recall the great toilet paper panic of March 2020, then it won’t surprise you that some even started to look for alternatives during this time.

Yes, it would seem that viral videos and pictures of cleaned out toilet paper shelves in supermarkets around the world inspired many to go online and search for none other than bidets. In fact, eBay reported a whopping 503% increase in interest!

Pricey plants grow in popularity

While some were worrying about toilet paper, others decided to use their time spent at home to cultivate their green thumbs. Nurseries across the country did a roaring trade back in March. Potted plants began to sell out and the sale of seeds went up too, as many started growing their own fruit and veggies.

Plus, it seems that some were willing to spend more than others. During the ‘botanical boom’ a plant on the New Zealand internet auction website ‘Trade Me’ sold for an astonishing $8,150 NZ dollars (roughly $7,656 AUD). 

The pricey plant, which was listed as ‘extremely rare’, has four leaves with ‘stunning yellow variegation’, as the seller describes it.  It is known as a ‘Philodendron Minima.’

Classic cars in pole position

It turns out classic cars are just as enticing online as they are in person. In fact, classic car enthusiasts weren’t put off at all by the inability to actually visit auction houses this year.

Auctions carried on as per usual, leading to the sale of the most expensive car ever bought at an online-only event. The car in question, which was a 2001 Ferrari 550 GT1 Prodrive, sold for $4.29 million during Monterey Car Week in August (an event usually held in Monterey County, California). 

It wasn’t the only Ferrari to sell at the auction either with quite a few going for over $1 million USD. No, the jury is out and vintage car lovers will not be put off by the lack of a 4D experience!

Fine wine for the seller

Online alcohol sales rose dramatically this year, as pubs and restaurants were forced to shut for different periods of time around the country. 

Now while most simply filled their online carts with beverages from local or nearby retailers, others got a little fancier and looked a little further afield to satisfy their palettes. In fact, at the end of June, a mystery buyer from Melbourne dropped over $100,000 on a rare bottle of wine from 1951 at an online auction.

There are less than 20 bottles of the ‘Penfolds 51 Bin 1 Grange’ wine in circulation and this is the most amount that a bottle of wine has sold for in Australia to date.

A little glamour

Diamonds really are forever it would seem no matter whether we can see them in the flesh or not. 

Not only did auctions of jewellery and antiques continue in the virtual world, but buyers were just as willing to spend big. In May, a Cartier bracelet from around 1930 broke records when it sold at a Sotheby’s auction for 1.3 million US dollars (approximately 1.7 million AUD).

That’s not all, just a few months ago a rare 102.39 carat diamond sold at an online auction to a private collector in Japan. The diamond which was discovered in Ontario, Canada sold for a staggering $21.8 million.

So there you have it, not only has 2020 not kerbed our appetites for the finer things in life, but it has also elicited some unusual purchases. To read more articles like this, head to our family finances hub, where we cover everything from Christmas gifting to where millennials are getting their financial advice these days.