2020: The year we lost life as we knew it… and a lot of our stuff! 

Tens of thousands of items were registered using the NotLost platform during 2020 across a wide range of industries, ranging from hotels to shopping centres to transport operators.  

What was new for 2020?

Overall, 2020 saw an increase in medical items from March onwards (as we might have expected) including medicines, PPE and even a lateral flow COVID-19 test! Don’t worry, it hadn’t been used yet… Plus, we also saw a staggering rise in the number of AirPods registered on the platform compared to 2019.

Some of the most unusual items we came across on the platform this year included: a set of false teeth, a prosthetic leg, a Louis Vuitton scarf and a bag containing a passport, MOT certificate and hundreds of bank statements.


What are the most commonly lost items?

The top 10 most commonly lost items across all 8 industries were:

  1. Smartphones – iPhones were the most commonly misplaced model
  2. Glasses
  3. Bank cards
  4. AirPods (or other Bluetooth headphones)
  5. Clothing – Woolly hats, scarves and coats replaced sun hats and sandals as we moved into colder weather!
  6. Keys
  7. Bags – Shopping bags full of Christmas gifts began appearing towards the end of the year! 
  8. Wallets
  9. Umbrellas
  10. Water bottles
Lost and found box

A year of disruption

The total number of items found at venues in 2020 was much lower than the previous year due to significant disruption to business operations because of COVID-19. However, despite there being fewer passengers, customers or guests, there were still thousands of items registered onto the platform.

If we break it down by industry, we can gain more insight into some of the items lost.

What was left behind at hotels?

In hotels, the most commonly lost item by far was clothing, with guests leaving bags of brand new, often designer, jumpers, coats and accessories. One guest misplaced a Louis Vuitton scarf however luckily it was returned.

Alongside the top 10 most common items, hotels also saw a high number of phone chargers, perfume, cuddly toys, jewellery and towards the end of the year, Christmas shopping!

What did we lose at theme parks?

During the summer months, when the virus had subsided somewhat during the hotter weather, (socially distanced) crowds were able to visit theme parks up and down the country and enjoy their day out. However, it wouldn’t be a typical family day out without something going missing…

As a result, theme parks saw a large number of lost umbrellas, keys and bags misplaced as guests queued for rides or sat for picnics.

Children were the biggest losers at visitor attractions

Similarly to theme parks, there was a window of opportunity for attractions such as museums, science centres, zoos and more to open their doors to visitors.

The items lost therefore reflected the attendees with large volumes of children’s toys, clothing and school uniform amongst the other most common items.

Lost property teddy children's toy

Ever left your phone in a taxi?

Taxis and private hire vehicles have been able to continue to offer safe and seamless travel to customers throughout 2020. Overwhelmingly, smartphones were the most commonly lost items, with sleek new iPhone models slipping out of rider’s pockets. 

An adjusted shopping experience triggered a lot of lost property

We’ve all experienced the feeling of confusion and stress which came with shopping in 2020. Having to wear face coverings, plus needing to maintain a 2m social distance from other shoppers, may have proved overwhelming for shoppers that managed to lose items such as: keys, bank cards, gift cards and sometimes entire bags of new shopping!

“Please make sure you take all items with you when you leave the train” 

Travel, stretching across bus, trains, tubes, trams, plans and more, has been impacted significantly by COVID-19 as we tried to ease the spread of the virus. As a result, passenger numbers have been a fraction of what we might normally expect in 2020.

Despite this, transport operators still received thousands of items of lost property that were left on services. Alongside the common items (phones, keys and bags), buses saw an overwhelming number of local travel cards.

Empty public transport lockdown covid19

Students have lost out on their university experience… and a lot of stuff

Whilst universities have been open, albeit with restrictions when attending the library or other buildings on campus, students have still managed to lose precious items. Glasses, water bottles and tech items such as chargers, computer mice, USB drives and calculators were amongst the items that came up time and time again.

It’s undoubtable that COVID-19 has caused huge disruption to all industries in 2020. However, one thing remains stable throughout crisis: human nature. It’s only natural to lose something whilst you’re travelling, on a day out, staying at a hotel or anywhere at all at some point!

What NotLost does

We’re proud to work with such a huge range of different organisations who work hard to ensure that their customer experience is second to none in their industry.

Delivering a great customer experience can come from unexpected places, most notably from how a business handles their lost property process. Being able to return items back to valued customers can leave a lasting good impression on your organisation and encourage excellent reviews.

What’s more, using a reliable, digital platform with leading software, makes staff lives so much easier and takes the headache out of managing lost property.


What do we predict for 2021?

  • Firstly, we’d love to keep getting more items back to owners! Working with more organisations to improve their lost and found process will allow us to do this. 
  • Furthermore, in 2021, we’re keen to ensure that even fewer unclaimed items of lost property are sent to landfill. We’re passionate about providing sustainable avenues for all of our clients to ensure items are disposed of in safe and environmentally friendly ways. 
  • Lastly, we have so many excellent ideas for brand new features on the platform; we’re sure that 2021 will bring the strongest, most efficient platform yet.
Returning lost property by postage package delivery

Get in touch

Give us a call on +44(0)20 8037 3970 or drop us an email hello@notlost.comPlus, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to stay up to date with all things lost property!