From fitness trackers to air fryers: what’s big at John Lewis?

Outdoor sofas, over-ear headphones, and blow-up flamingos? How many of these trending John Lewis products do you own?

If you love your air fryer, can’t live without a good coffee maker and are tempted by an inflatable flamingo, you’re not alone, according to John Lewis.

The retailer’s How We Shop, Live and Look report reflects the impact that the cost-of-living crisis, online shopping in front of the TV and cultural moments such as Eurovision and the release of the Barbie movie have had on the nation.

A need for comfort sees a shift towards super-sized sofas, bigger rugs and extra-warm duvets – plus over-the-ear headphones. The KitchenAid, Ninja air fryer and Sage bean-to-cup coffee machine were also popular, whereas printers, outdoor heaters and drinks trolleys fell out of favour.

John Lewis storeCredit: John Lewis

Great gadgets, but do you need them?

Retail expert and founder of search and comparison site, Deidre McGettrick, tells Saga Exceptional she read the report as she was “double screening” – watching TV and scrolling on her phone – which the research also cited as a shopping habit. “It’s 100% how we shop at the moment. People are sitting on the sofa with the TV on and they’re scrolling Instagram, Pinterest and shopping sites, doing their research before they buy.”

McGettrick isn’t surprised by the boom in outdoor sofas. “Outdoor space is becoming like an extra room and we’re seeing people wanting more than just a bench or sun lounger. We treat our garden or balcony as a curated space, with rugs and solar lights, so it’s a place you can look out on and it looks more like a room.”

When it comes to those gadgets such as pizza ovens and coffee machines, McGettrick points out that they often have a high price tag, so choose carefully. “I have friends who jump on every trend and back in the day they were buying soupmakers, breadmakers and spiralisers. One of the things I always say is to consider what you buy, what you’ll use and what will be stuck in the back of the cupboard. These products are really, really good, but what I push people on is: are you going to use them in the long-term? If you’re going to use it, fantastic, but if you’re not, think twice about the environmental impact,” she says.


Not sure whether to buy it? Check the “cost per use”

Consumer expert Polly Arrowsmith agrees, telling Saga Exceptional: “People buy on emotion and then justify that purchase by logic. A lot of us buy things we want, rather than need. We get a dopamine hit on the purchase, a feel-good high, but it doesn’t last long, so we look for the next thrill.”

Many of the kitchen items on the trends list have what Arrowsmith describes as a good return on “cost per use”. 

“If you buy a takeaway coffee regularly, the Sage Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine will likely pay for itself in 12 to 18 months. However, you do have to have the money to buy it outright, and it is likely out of reach for most people.

“I do invest in fabulous kitchen wares, so nothing on the list surprises me. Cost-per-use is a decent value. Global knives appear very expensive but are weighted well and last well. My saucepans are Pentole and have been in use for 20 years, so they’re great.

“People are spending more on interiors, so the rechargeable mushroom lamp was the surprise hit at a very reasonable price, and it whispers quiet luxury. The handheld fans are a cheaper entry point, and there has been a lot of talk of perimenopause and menopause products, so women are no longer worried about negative judgement.”

But as a savvy shopper with an eye on value, Arrowsmith advises people to not rush into snap decisions when they’re shopping. “We should all think before we buy. I list everything I need and have a separate list of what I want, but it takes real discipline and awareness to do this. The large retailers already know what they must do to make people buy, but I have my list ready for Black Friday; I am prepared to wait. On a recent trip to Norway, I bought some jewellery I’d waited 10 years for as I knew I would get a 25% VAT refund,” she says.

John Lewis trends: What's hot and what's not?

Going up…

The Stanley Quencher +272%

Outdoor sofas +155%

Birkenstock classics +86%

Baseball caps +58%

Barbie range +31%

Going down…

Firepits/outdoor heaters -35%

Chandeliers -29%

Printers -26%

Drinks trolleys -13%

Polo shirts -10%

Saga experts on the latest John Lewis trends – and what they’ve bought

John McCann, editor-in-chief for tech:

“As the world around us becomes more frenetic, finding a quiet escape can be tricky. Over-ear headphones with active noise-cancellation can provide you with a serene oasis of calm in even the busiest of places. Whether that’s wandering through a bustling train station, removing the roar of an aeroplane’s engines, or blocking out the day-to-day cacophony that is the world around us– a good set of headphones can make all the difference.

“It’s no surprise then that sales have skyrocketed recently, especially from Sony, which makes some of the best-reviewed noise-cancelling headphones on the market. If you’re after a premium set of cans, the Sony WH-1000XM4, newer Sony WH-1000XM5 and Apple AirPods Max (especially good for iPhone, iPad and Mac owners) are all excellent options we’d recommend.”

Becky Fuller, staff writer for fitness:

“I love my Powerbeats Wireless In-Ear Headphones. They’re brilliant for wearing on walks, runs or to the gym. They stay put because of the over-ear hooks (which are easy to adjust to fit), it’s easy to answer calls, increase volume, skip tracks, you name it! It also reads my messages out to me, and if I want to reply I can do so without having to get my phone out.

“I also have an Apple Watch Series 8, which syncs to my iPhone, is easy to navigate and is really good for health apps tracking my activity.”

Jayne Cherrington-Cook, senior editor for home tech:

“I’m not surprised the Ninja air fryers are trending at John Lewis. When we tested them for our air fryers buying guide, Ninja consistently came out top. In fact, our best air fryer was the  Ninja Air Fryer Max AF160UK, which got a whopping five out of five by our testers. It’s a great size, so it can cope with cooking for a family, and everything we cooked in it tasted great. A really good investment if you want an air fryer. 

“Sage is the ultimate when it comes to making kitchen appliances and their coffee machines are really on another level. Whenever I’ve interviewed coffee experts or baristas, they always recommend a Sage espresso or bean-to-cup coffee machine, which to me is the ultimate accolade. Yep, they’re not cheap, but not only do they make delicious coffee, they’re also a thing of beauty and that never comes cheap.”

Phillipa Cherryson, fitness channel editor:

“We bought our Ooni Pizza Oven during lockdown and it’s been a great investment. They are expensive, but it’s a really good quality product. We find attaching it to a gas cylinder is easier and we use it every week, all year round for pizzas, flatbreads, naans and steaks.

“We’ve got the bigger size and definitely feel it’s worth it, as it gives us more flexibility about what we can cook in it. I know it’s a luxury item and although we never needed one before we had it, I’d hate to be without it now.”

Amy Cutmore, editor-in-chief for homes:

“When it comes to interiors, ‘cosy’ has been the buzzword of 2023. Soaring energy prices are driving our desire for furniture and furnishings we can cuddle into. Not only do we want to stay warm, but with purse-strings tightened, we’re determined that if we are staying in, we’ll do it in style. Curvaceous, large-scale sofas are ticking the box for families that want to snuggle up together with a box set, while extra-warm duvets mean we can turn down the thermostat a few degrees at night to save precious pennies.”

Hannah Verdier, freelance writer:

“We need to talk about the iconic handheld fan, which sold the equivalent of 153 wind turbines stacked on top of each other. Some days I would like to put my face next to those sweet cooling turbines, but for 12 quid the John Lewis fan is a great portable option. A hot flushing yoga buddy introduced me to it and now everyone in my family has one in a different colour. It’s often sold out, but get on the list for the next time it comes into stock.”

John Lewis products of the decade: 2013-23

  • KitchenAid
  • Ooni pizza oven
  • Ninja airfryer
  • Jumpsuit
  • Christmas pyjamas
  • Inflatable flamingo
  • Flat cap
  • Smart white trainers
  • Fitbit
  • Wireless headphones
  • Sage bean-to-cup coffee machine
Hannah Verdier

Written by Hannah Verdier


Hannah Verdier writes about fitness, health, relationships, podcasts, TV and the joy of reinventing yourself at 50 and beyond. She’s a graduate of teenage music bible Smash Hits and has a side hustle as a fitness trainer who shows people who hated PE at school how to love exercise.

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