1 Department of Psychiatry, Enam Medical College and Hospital, Dhaka,
2 Department of Psychiatry, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow,
Uttar Pradesh, India
S. M. Yasir Arafat, Department of Psychiatry, Enam Medical College and
Hospital, Dhaka 1340, Bangladesh.
Sex During Pandemic: Panic Buying of
Sex Toys During COVID-19 Lockdown
S. M. Yasir Arafat1 and Sujita Kumar Kar2
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every part of human life which reveals several peculiar human behaviors. Panic
buying is one of the erratic phenomenon that has been observed in many countries of the world during this COVID-19
pandemic. The selling of online sex dolls, lingerie, and sex toys was increased during the COVID-19 lockdown in several
countries like Australia, UK, Denmark, Colombia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, France, India, North America, and Ireland. The
increase in sex toy market turnover has several implications such as customization of recreational facilities, limitations in
alternative sources of pleasure, need to have sex and unfortunately, and unavailability of a partner. We speculate that people
may buy sex toys in response to perceived scarcity, perceived short supply, the anticipation of price hike, or to get control
over the environment. However, there could be other factors such as an extra time to explore sexuality, and being apart from
the partners. There is a need to study the sexual behavior and sex toy use among people in the post-pandemic era and their
repercussions on the intimate relationship.
Human sexuality, race, class, gender, and sexuality, sexual medicine, sociology of sex and gender
Received 18 February 2021; accepted 3 April 2021
Journal of Psychosexual Health
© The Author(s) 2021
Reprints and permissions:
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every part of
human life which reveals several peculiar human behaviors.
Panic buying is one of the erratic phenomenon that has been
observed in many countries of the world during this COVID-
19 pandemic.1 In response to the virus as well as the safety
measures, lockdown panic buying has been noticed to
stockpile necessary goods such as toilet tissue, important
medicines, masks, hand sanitizers, gloves, groceries, fuels,
food grains, and other perceived necessary goods in excess
amount.2,3 The panic buying behavior also involved the
purchase of sex toys, as reported by several reports.4-7
The selling of online sex dolls, lingerie, and sex toys
has been increased during the COVID-19 lockdown.8 It got
doubled in Australia on March 22, 2020 when the impending
shutdown of bars was declared.9,10 It was also noticed in the
UK after the declaration of the same on March 21, 2020.9,10
Denmark and Colombia have also experienced similar
phenomena in their respective countries.9 The boom of sex
toys has been tripled in New Zealand after the declaration
of a month-long lockdown in the country.10 It was prompted
during the immediate 48 h before the lockdown which was
imposed on March 25, 2020 in New Zealand.10 Sex toy
sales in Italy, Spain, and France have outpaced the projected
targets by 124%, 300%, and 94%, respectively, only in March
2020.11 An analytical survey was done by ThatsPersonal.com,
a sexual health and wellness product retailer, titled “India
Uncovered: Insightful Analysis of Sex Products’ Trends in
India,” revealed the sex toys and other adult products have
been increased 65% in India after the lockdown.12 The survey
studied over 22 million visitors resulting in about 3,35,000
sex product orders and a little below 5,00,000 products sale.12
A 30% increase in online sales in March and April of 2020 in
North America, in comparison to the same time period last
year, has been reported by Adam and Eve.13 The sex toy sale in
Ireland during the coronavirus lockdown has been increased
by 177% compared to the same time period of the previous
year.14 The sex toy export of the Chinese sex toy exporters
Creative Commons Non Commercial CC BY-NC: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial 4.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-Commercial use, reproduction
and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages
2 Journal of Psychosexual Health
has been increased by 50% to the biggest consumers like US,
France, and Italy.15 We-Vibe, a sex toy company, reported that
“we see no other explanation for the increase in sales other
than the coronavirus,” while attributing the increased sales.11
Interestingly, it was noticed prominently in the countries
where lockdown has been implemented stringently.11
It has been reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has
affected various domains of life signicantly, including
sexual life.16-19 The increase in sex toy market turnover has
several implications. Many people were not able to meet
their partners or were away from home due to the lockdown.
The recreational facilities are compromised. Limitations
in alternative sources of pleasure, need to have sex and
unfortunately, unavailability of a partner, might be the major
factor for buying sex toys online.
Although there is a dearth of studies, researches have
been coming out exploring the perspectives of panic buying.
One study assessed the online media reports to ascertain
the responsible factors for the behavior and found that
increased demand, the perceived importance of the goods,
the anticipation of price hike, and the COVID-19 pandemic
along with its related factors are the important deciding
factors. The study also revealed other factors mentioned as
psychological factors comprising of safety-seeking behavior,
due to uncertain environment, a way to reduce anxiety, and
taking control over the surroundings, herd behavior, lack of
trust, government action, and past experience.1 Other studies
also mentioned that perceived scarcity, gaining control,
uncertainty, insecurity, social learning, primitive behavior,
media inuence, coping behavior.20,21 Studies are warranted
to explore the psychological underpinning of buying sex
toys during the lockdown. We speculate that people may
buy sex toys in response to perceived scarcity, perceived
short supply, the anticipation of price hike, or to get control
over the environment. However, there could be other factors
such as extra time to explore sexuality, being apart from the
partners, and the absence of other entertainments. Excessive
buying and bulk buying of sexual accessories indicate that
people are having a long plan, strong need, and safe need as
there has been a popular dictum during this pandemic which
is “yourself is your safest sexual partner.” As there is an
increase in panic buying of sex toys, the business houses have
also invested in several-related accessories like ultraviolet
sanitizer for the sex toys for their safe use.6
Another perspective of this changing scenario is that
this pandemic has introduced sex toys to a larger population,
who never used it in their life. Such buying behavior may
popularize the use of sex toys and the increasing demand may
lead to expansion of the sex toy industry. It can be anticipated
that the adoption of sex toys during the pandemic may also
likely to inuence subsequent sexual behavior. There is a
need to study the sexual behavior and sex toy use among
people in the post-pandemic era and their repercussions on
the intimate relationship.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors declared no potential conicts of interest with respect to
the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
The authors received no nancial support for the research, author-
ship, and/or publication of this article.
S.M. Yasir Arafat https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0521-5708
Sujita Kumar Kar https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1107-3021
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style/sex-toys-online-coronavirus.html. Accessed October 28,
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