The coronavirus shutdown has brought swaths of the global economy to a standstill, but for producers and purveyors of condoms and sex toys, business is booming.
Ritex, Germany’s largest domestic producer of prophylactics, saw sales nearly double in March. The company, which is based in the north-western town of Bielefeld and is still operating, said its sales of condoms last month doubled compared with the same period a year ago, to 12.7m.
The same trend is happening in other countries. Ann Summers, the British lingerie chain, said sex toy sales last week were up 27 per cent over last year. Its best-selling item was the Whisper Rabbit, which it markets as its quietest vibrator.
“Customers are placing increasing importance on noise while they have a full household,” the company said.
Across the world, the coronavirus pandemic has halted social life. Shops have been closed, football matches postponed and bars and clubs shut. Strict social distancing rules in Germany and elsewhere mean gatherings of more than two people are banned.
Axel-Jürg Potempa, a German sexual health specialist, said he predicted a coronavirus-related baby-boom by Christmas.
“The crisis creates new, additional bonds,” he said. Fear of Covid-19 was prompting a flood of adrenalin and a subsequent “dopamine rush” in many, which “increases desire and libido”, he told the Berliner Kurier.
Robert Richter, Ritex’s managing director, said the rise in condom sales was partly explained by panic buying after curbs on social contact were introduced last month, with Germans hoarding essentials such as toilet paper and hand sanitiser as well as prophylactics.
But there was also an emotional reason, he added. “In a crisis, when you’re isolated, you seek more emotional intimacy with your partner, and sex is part of that,” he said. “And that might well lead to more condom use.”
Dildo King, a Berlin accessory supplier, said it had seen an 87 per cent increase in sales of sex toys year-on-year since the restrictions were announced. Fetish article sales were up 94 per cent and sales of certain “masturbator” models had increased more than eightfold compared with last year.
“We are doing incredibly well out of this crisis, but I’m not exactly jumping for joy,” said Raiko Spörck, managing director. “People are dying, and no one’s happy.”
The company was now having trouble procuring stock, he said: “The producers weren’t prepared for such an onslaught.”
Year-on-year increase in sales of fetish items at Dildo King in Berlin
Eis.de, another leading German online retailer of sexual accessories, said orders had doubled since Germany introduced social restrictions: on March 23 it saw the biggest sales volume in its history.
There had been a 300 per cent increase in sales of sex aids for men and women in the southern state of Bavaria, and demand for the company’s fantasy nurse costumes had risen 30-fold, it said. Eis.de also recorded a fivefold rise in sales of jumbo packs of condoms, each containing 100.
However, as in all areas of business, Covid-19 has interrupted supply chains.
Karex, which makes one in five condoms globally, had to shut down its three factories in Malaysia for 10 days last month as authorities imposed strict curbs on large gatherings to slow the spread of the illness.
The company was able to win an exemption from the lockdown rule late last week, arguing that it was a producer of essential medical goods, and restarted the plants last Friday. But they are still only running at 50 per cent capacity.
“We are going to be facing a global shortage of condoms,” Goh Miah Kiat, Karex’s chief executive, told the Financial Times. “Karex alone has produced 200m fewer units as a result of the restrictions — it’s really impacting our production.”
He said that other big condom-makers in China and India were also experiencing shutdowns, which would have further repercussions for global supply.
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Karex provides large numbers of condoms to international organisations such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which use them as part of a campaign against HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases in places such as sub-Saharan Africa.
“The WHO has said that condoms are the best way to prevent the spread of HIV, so any shortage is going to be painful,” Mr Kiat said.
Author: ” — www.ft.com ”