As you’re probably aware, most of us have been stuck indoors for the past 10 months or so, as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to cause sporadic breakouts and lockdowns all across the world. Businesses have collapsed, markets have crashed, and things have just all-around been pretty terrible.
Though the virus has caused much harm to our physical health, the effects of lockdown have also taken a toll on the world’s mental health, as seeing family and friends suddenly became difficult or non-existent. By June 2020, 40% of US adults claimed to be struggling with their mental health.
However, it appears that people have been turning to one thing to get them through the pandemic - sex toys.According to Forbes, who normally report on more boring stuff than this, sex toy company Tracy’s Dog compiled a survey of 877 adults from around the world. There were some interesting key takeaways from this data:
Now, there could be an element of self-selection bias here, as the company holding this survey sells sex toys and probably has a lot of followers who are interested in sex toys, but still.
People are really into sex toys during quarantine.
Online sex toy sales skyrocketing
UK sex toy chain Ann Summers has revealed to Business Insider that their sex toy sales have boomed during lockdown, with the sales of kinky sex equipment like BDSM and high-tech equipment rising in 2020 as lockdowns were rolled out globally.
In the UK alone, sex toy sales doubled in April 2020 for Ann Summers, with the heightened spending on sex toys continuing throughout 2020. Interestingly, the retailer claimed that people seemed to be experimenting more and getting kinkier with their sex while they had nothing else to do:
“The UK has become kinkier and more adventurous, with more people than ever spicing up their sex lives by trying out BDSM products and anal sex”
Ann Summers also said that their bestselling anal toy for the year was their “Intro to Anal Kit”, implying that many customers are trying anal sex for the first time while they’re stuck inside without nothing else to do.
But it’s not just women experimenting with their bottoms, as Google data reveals that searches for “what is pegging in sex?” rose by 250% in the UK this year, suggesting that more and more men are becoming interested in the prospect of receiving anal pleasure from a female partner wearing a strap-on dildo.
Now that’s what we like to see.
According to the New York Times, US sex toy retailer Adam & Eve also saw a rise in sales, though it was a little more tame. They reported a 30% increase in sex toy sales for March and April compared to the same months last year.
WowTech Group, the company that owns sex toy giants We-Vibe and Womanizer, saw higher sales, with 200% more sales in April 2020 than April of the previous year.
I could throw lots more statistics at you - but you get the point. People are bored in quarantine and they need stuff to do, so naturally you start Googling around to find which vibrator will take your mind off of all this depressing stuff going on.
As expected, sex toy sales rise for both singles and partners looking to try new things out while they have the time.
It’s not good news for brick-and-mortar sex shops
While online sales are doing very well, especially when Amazon continued to ship sex toys despite their status as nonessential items, brick-and-mortar businesses began to suffer from the lockdowns and online sales.
Obviously, most brick-and-mortar sex shops were forced to close for extended periods of time, and while many have small online stores, they simply cannot offer the discounts and low prices of huge corporations like Amazon or Adam & Eve.
Those running a small business simply don’t have access to the bulk discounts that larger companies get when ordering in their sex toy stock. Also, when there’s a global pandemic going on and people are bored, they probably want to choose a courier that’s going to be super fast and get their items delivered to them quickly.
For better or worse, Amazon shipping can be super fast. These small companies don’t stand a chance.
Sid Azmi, owner of sex shop “Please” in Brooklyn, NYC, explains:
“The reason why people come to us rather than buying from Amazon or bigger sex shops like Adam and Eve is because we offer in-house education, conversations, our time and our recommendations. It’s that one-on-one personable service that we can’t promote through online sales.”
Shag, another Brooklyn-based sex shop, has decided to start listing their sex toys on Amazon in a bid to survive following low attendance once lockdown restrictions were lifted in New York.
Owner Samantha Bard tells the New York Times:
“We’re hoping that that will generate some people to come back after they’ve made their first Amazon purchase, maybe they’ll come back to our own web store and purchase through us.”
As the future of the pandemic remains unclear, brick-and-mortar sex shops continue struggling to hang on financially.
Long distance sex toys are having their moment
In case you don’t know, long distance sex toys are sex toys that use “teledildonics” to help long-distance partners pleasure each other from afar in real-time. This usually means that there is a combination of a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals for both partners that are run through apps on their smartphones and connected to the sex toy(s) at hand.
Basically, you can control your partner’s vibrator from your phone.
Long distance sex toys are usually clitoral vibrators, but you can get prostate toys, butt plugs, penis masturbation machines, and much more. While many companies have dabbled in this sub-genre of sex toys, Lovense is the biggest name in this space, with the Hong Kong sex toy company selling teledildonics globally since 2009.
As you can imagine, when a lot of long-distance (or even short-distance!) partners suddenly cannot see each other for weeks at a time due to quarantines, they want to find ways to pleasure each other remotely. Lovense toys like the Lush 2 are also widely used on webcam and sites like OnlyFans, which saw a 75% increase in signups when quarantine was announced in March 2020.
According to the LA Times, Lovense reported March 2020 as its 2nd best selling month to date, beaten only by the previous christmas period. ManOfMany also listed the Lovense Lush 2 as one of the most popular sex toys that people were buying during the pandemic, suggesting a trend toward this naturally socially distant technology.
The company has kept its sales figures close to its chest, but press coverage suggests that they’re doing well.
Lovense also recently attracted headlines from UK tabloid newspaper The Sun when they added a feature to their Lovense Remote smartphone app that allowed for “virtual lockdown mega orgies”, with multiple sex toy owners able to use their vibrators in sync at the same time, sharing in the socially distant orgasmic fun.
You can get up to 50 people in one group session, which seems like a logistical nightmare if you ask me.
Sex doll sales increase
Bryan Gill, owner of sex doll brand Silicon Wives, told the New York Post that even before the pandemic, sex doll sales have been growing for his company 25% year over year, with huge spikes of sales in Dallas, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. With the lockdowns setting in, sales have grown even more than usual.
Sex Doll Genie, another large sex doll company, also experienced an influx of extra orders as lockdowns began to roll out across the US.
Co-Founder Janet Stevenson told Forbes that they actually experienced an increase in sales from couples - not just individuals - who wanted to try having sex with a doll during their newly acquired downtime. Orders from couples grew by 33% at the peak of the pandemic.
“The traditional stereotype of loners choosing sex dolls as a last resort is totally inaccurate. What we are seeing now is doll use is going mainstream, with men and women both enthusiastic about bringing a doll into their bedroom.”
In addition to couples, single men ordering dolls from Sex Doll Genie also rose 51.6% from February 2020 to March 2020, with singles apparently bunkering down for quarantine with their brand new silicone partner.
While these sales spikes aren’t as big as some other sex toy companies have seen, it’s important to remember that a decent sex doll can easily set you back several hundred or several thousand dollars. Most of us can’t just casually splash out on a life-size sex doll while walking blindly into the economic uncertainty of a global pandemic.
It’d be great if we could, though.
The future of sex toys post-COVID 19
No one can know what’s going to happen in the near future, with COVID-19 continuing to disrupt global economies despite vaccines slowly rolling out.
Unless significant economic assistance is offered to brick-and-mortar sex shops, these small businesses could soon become a thing of the past as they lose the fight to huge online retailers.
Still, the data suggests that not only are people buying more sex toys during this pandemic, but they’re getting more experimental too, trying BDSM, anal sex, and specific kinks for the first time.
Many analysts have predicted that the world will soon enter into a brand new “roaring ‘20s”, mimicking the partying and economic boom that followed the Spanish Flu Pandemic and World War I in the early 1920s. After months of constant lockdowns, people will be desperate to get out, have fun, spend money, and enjoy life again, just like they did back then.
I personally hope to see more sexual exploration as part of this new roaring ‘20s, with people discovering new kinks during quarantine and/or itching to get out there and shag as many people in as many ways as possible, to put it simply.
That might be wishful thinking on my part, but let’s see.
As the pandemic comes to an end and the new roaring ‘20s is set to arrive in the next year or two, perhaps survivors of the COVID-19 crisis will celebrate their freedom with a dildo or a bondage set. Perhaps OnlyFans creators will become the Flapper Girls of the digital age - they arguably already are.
If you do splash out on adult novelties this pandemic season, consider buying from a brick-and-mortar sex shop that needs your support.
The big online sex toy retailers are doing just fine.