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Year in Review: How Strategist Readers Shopped in 2022

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

As much as we love talking about our own shopping finds on the Strategist, we’re equally interested in what our readers are buying. And while we regularly round up your favorites in our monthly “Your Shopping Cart” feature, at the end of the year we like to take a bird’s-eye view, analyzing the shopping trends and patterns that emerged during the previous twelve months.

So we surveyed what landed in your virtual shopping carts to answer some of our most nagging questions, like: What was the most purchased item on Black Friday? Which celebrity’s shopping cart most captivated Strategist readers this year? And did we beat our record for most expensive item ever sold on the Strategist? Here’s a closer look into how you shopped in 2022.

What were our top sellers every month?

Let’s go with the big picture first. Here are our best sellers this year (as determined by items sold rather than the amount of money spent):

As we knuckled through year three of the pandemic, Powecom’s KN95 masks remained the top seller for seven months out of the year, and by now we’re sure everyone is aware of their benefits: high filtration efficacy, a tight-fitting seal, comfortable on the skin. The one anomaly was in March, when the widely beloved CeraVe moisturizer snagged first place — perhaps readers were looking to soothe chapped winter skin.

In July, however, a dark horse emerged that would continue to dominate readers’ carts for the rest of year: the Zimasilk mulberry-silk pillowcase. Though Strategist beauty writer Rio Viera-Newton first gushed about in January, it wasn’t until we named it the best overall silk pillowcase that it started creeping up the list. Its newly minted status propelled it to second place in July and August, and then it rose to claim the top spot for four months in a row. “Not only do they feel heavenly and luxurious, but I can’t stress how much they’ve minimized my bedhead,” Viera-Newton writes. “Also, the pillowcases have really helped with reducing skin irritation along my cheeks.” We anticipate its winning streak will continue into 2023.

What was the busiest shopping day of 2022?

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist

Black Friday is pretty consistently our biggest shopping day of the year, and 2022 was no different: We saw the most users on the site buying the most things on November 25, followed by Cyber Monday, November 28. There were two different Prime Days this year, one in July and a surprise one in October, and both brought a large spike in traffic to our site.

What was the most purchased item on the busiest shopping day of 2022?

No surprise here: The Zimasilk pillowcase was the most popular Black Friday purchase, when it was discounted by 40 percent. It’s still somehow on sale, though slightly less so now, but the fervor is still strong. (As of mid-December, we’ve sold over 21,000 of these pillowcases.)

What was the best non–Black Friday deal?

Every day, we rummage through the internet sales bins to bring you the best Deal of the Day — and lots of readers were excited to see these Merrell Moab hiking boots on sale in October. Strategist writer Jeremy Rellosa, who’s an avid outdoorsman, assures us that “you’ll likely spot someone wearing a pair of Merrell Moabs” at any hiking trail, campsite, or national park. The classic Moabs got an upgrade with this waterproof model, which comes with a membrane “that keeps out water from the get-go but still allows your feet to breathe through its mesh upper” — and right now, they’re even more discounted than when we wrote about them in October.

What was the Strategist’s most read story?

Photo-Illustration: retailers

Although a decrease in COVID-19 transmissions caused a major rollback of pandemic-era restrictions in New York City, our readers were still concerned about having the right masks on hand to stay safe, and our senior writer Liza Corsillo’s breakdown of the difference between KN95 and KF94 masks was our most-read story of 2022.

Interestingly, the top seller from that post isn’t our best overall mask pick or the top-selling mask from our guide to KN95s. But this KF94 mask from LG Health does have a remarkable fit that won’t fog your glasses.

[Editor’s note: This mask is currently sold out everywhere, but our pick for the best overall KF94 mask, BOTN’s KF94, is in stock on Amazon for $24 for a pack of 10.]

What was the Strategist’s most shared story?

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist. Photos: ABC; Getty Images; HBO

Our top-performing story on social media this year was our guide to the most timely Halloween costumes, which included everything from a spotted lanternfly to pregnant Rihanna to the Don’t Worry Darling cast at their awkward Venice Film Festival appearance. No word on how many people actually dressed like Pearl from Pearl, but we did sell a surprising number of FBI jackets for those who wanted to reenact the raid on Mar-a-Lago.

Which costume were readers most obsessed with?

Photo: Matt Dinerstein/FX

Jeremy Allen White’s apron-and-tee-shirt combo in The Bear captured our shared imagination (though who’s to say how much of that interest is directly proportional to how White’s biceps looked in said shirt). And once we saw that shirt, we needed to find out where we could get our own. So Corsillo reached out to Cristina Spiridakis, the costume designer for The Bear’s pilot. She confirmed that the tee White wears in that episode is from German basics company Merz B. Schwanen. It features “triangular armpit inserts, the outline of the tag on the back, and a loopwheel cotton construction,” and many of you picked one up to see if you too could be called “Chef.”

What was the most expensive thing anyone bought?

In 2018, an $8,000 version of this massage chair secured the top spot, but in 2020, 2021, and again this year, the more luxurious $11,000 Kahuna edition of the chair took the title for the most expensive item purchased by a Strategist reader — and for the first time, we actually sold two of them. Not only does it have 15 unique massage programs and a built-in tablet to control it all, it’s also a regular feature on celebrities’ Instagram accounts, including Angela BassettAnthony Anderson, Jamie Foxx, Daymond John, and Martha Stewart.

What’s the best way to identify a Strategist reader in the wild?

Photo: Marcus McDonald

By their shoes, apparently. In 2022, readers simply couldn’t get enough of our footwear recommendations, and the biggest tell might be these classic Air Force 1s. They’re our Best in Class pick for the best overall white sneaker for women, and are beloved by Strategist writers and editors, celebrities, creative directors, professional basketball players, and Gen-Z cool girls. They’re so beloved that stylist Christel Langué buys a brand-new pair each year. “You can’t go wrong with Air Force 1s, and as a native New Yorker, I would feel embarrassed not to own a pair,” she says. “A staple for sure.”

What about some comfortable sneakers?

Illustration: The Strategist. Photo: Avaline

Cameron Diaz provided the most popular installment of our celebrity shopping column all year, and the products that resonated most were these very cushy Hoka Cliftons. Years ago, she experienced a “come-to-God moment: What am I doing to my feet? Am I gonna keep doing this forever, just squeezing my feet into shoes that are crippling? Is that really what I’m gonna do for the rest of my life? And I decided, No, it’s not. So she Googled “most comfortable shoes,” and the Cliftons came up. “I ordered a pair and have not taken them off since,” she told us, proving once and for all that celebrities really are just like us, especially when it comes to foot comfort.

[Editor’s note: The Clifton Edge is currently sold out, but the slightly more plush Clifton 8 is in stock at Zappos for $125.]

Were there any sort-of-sexy and comfortable shoes?

Photo: Liza Corsillo

Definitely. Over the summer, Corsillo’s ode to her Arcopedico orthopedic sandals resonated with thousands of readers and, for a while, was the most-read article on our site. “I am not exaggerating when I say that these shoes are the closest thing to actual clouds I have ever worn,” Corsillo writes. “They are also somehow extremely sexy — the black mesh fabric made me feel cool and a little bit naughty, like slipping a health vest or fishnets over my toes.” Though the model she owns, the Antalia, is nearly sold out, the brand offers another style called the Ema with a similar silhouette.

Which Best in Class story was … the best in class?

Photo: Marcus McDonald

After two years of delayed travel plans, many of you were on the hunt for a good piece of carry-on luggage, making our Best in Class guide to the category one of our highest-performing. And interestingly, the most purchased pick wasn’t our best overall choice. Readers instead flocked to buy the budget-friendly Amazon Basics hard-side spinner. “It’s really perfect for a weekend or four-to-five-day trip,” writer Robin Reetz tells us. “I’ve traveled recently with friends who have Away and Delsey luggage, and all of them are now thinking about getting this bag.”

Who was the hardest person to shop for?

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

Shopping for the father figure in your life might seem like an impossible task, especially when he “doesn’t need anything.” Maybe that’s why Strategist readers consulted our gift guide for dads more than all others this year. The most-gifted item was this package of tumbleweed fire-starters, which come recommended to us by Strategist contributor (and avowed fire father) Steven John. They “burn hot and clean” and “last for nearly ten minutes, which is plenty of time for Dad to get larger logs or a pile of charcoal going,” he says.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Year in Review: How Strategist Readers Shopped in 2022