The decade Britain misses the most

The nation’s favourite decade

The definition of nostalgia is ‘a sentimental longing or wistful affection of the past’, something that many of us feel towards a certain time. But what era are we most nostalgic for? We set out to discover exactly when the ‘good old days’ really were.
It turns out it’s the Swinging Sixties that has the heart of the nation. The decade that brought us The Beatles and The Rolling Stones won 35% of the vote, and the decade’s music was the biggest reason to go back. In second place came the 1980s with 33%, and the 1970s in third with 28%. In fact, music was the main reason why our respondents would return to the 70s, 80s and 90s.
People aren’t interested in recapturing the magic of the last ten years, as the 2010s was the least yearned-for decade, with only 4% stating they would return. But it was revealed that the decade that brought us many royal weddings and the planking phenomenon was deemed the least stressful decade.

Old is gold

Newer is better, right? The next piece of technology is always just around the corner, but old technology often clings on in hearts and minds, as it reminds us of a simpler time. It’s because of this nostalgia that people want to buy old technology and it’s exactly this kind of thinking you can cash in on if you have access to working condition items.
If you want to know where to start your side hustle, we discovered that people are willing to spend more money on older generations of phones (34%) than music devices (32%) and games consoles (21%).
In fact, your collection of old mobiles might be a little gold mine, potentially holding more value as collector’s items than you think. Unsurprisingly, mid-generation phones like the iPhone 5 and Samsung 5 have depreciated (for now), while true golden-oldie classics have seen a massive uptick in the price consumers are willing to pay. The Motorola DynaTac increased in value by 147% between 1983 and 2020. The Nokia 5110 also rose by 142% between 1982 and 2020 and the original iPhone went up by a whopping 264% between 2003 and 2020.

The easiest way to make money with vintage technology
How do people really feel about nostalgia

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right? Well, our top earners are the most willing to fork out for technology from a time gone by. It’s no secret that music sounds more authentic on a record player, which is probably why 21% of top-tier earners are willing to pay more money for a vintage record player than the latest speakers. What’s more, 1 in 10 of the top breadwinners are willing to spend more money on vintage games than the latest technology, creating a potentially lucrative market for those classic arcade games, NES and Atari machines.

Across the ages

Reminiscing about days gone by isn’t just a pastime we adopt as we grow older. Interestingly, Gen Z (16-24 year-olds) have a touch of ‘fauxstalgia’ (embracing trends and aesthetics of a decade they have never experienced) with 35% wanting to visit the 1980s – a period where shoulder pads and hair were as big as they could get. The 80s is also the decade that unites the ages as it is the most popular decade for both Gen X (45-54-year-olds) and Millennials (25-34-year olds).

However, attitudes about what to do with classic machines differs across the ages. We discovered that millennials are the most generous generation, with over 1 in 4 opting to give their old technology away to friends and family. Gen Z, on the other hand, are most likely to keep and enjoy their outdated items whereas those over 55+ are the least sentimental, being the generation most likely to throw them away.


This survey was conducted with a sample size of 2042 people across the UK with Censuswide.

All mobile phone value data was based on the original retail price and the highest asking price for a working model on eBay (25/05/2020).

Data on mobile retail price was sourced from these sites: Know Your Mobile, Oldest and Quartz.

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