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Sex During Pandemic: Panic Buying of Sex Toys During COVID-19 Lockdown

Authors:

Abstract

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.
Viewpoint
1 Department of Psychiatry, Enam Medical College and Hospital, Dhaka,
Bangladesh
2 Department of Psychiatry, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow,
Uttar Pradesh, India
Corresponding author:
S. M. Yasir Arafat, Department of Psychiatry, Enam Medical College and
Hospital, Dhaka 1340, Bangladesh.
E-mail: arafatdmc62@gmail.com
Sex During Pandemic: Panic Buying of
Sex Toys During COVID-19 Lockdown
S. M. Yasir Arafat1 and Sujita Kumar Kar2
Abstract
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.
Keywords
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
1–3
© The Author(s) 2021
Reprints and permissions:
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DOI: 10.1177/26318318211013347
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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
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(https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
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 signicantly, 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 inuence, 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 inuence 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 conicts of interest with respect to
the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding
The authors received no nancial support for the research, author-
ship, and/or publication of this article.
ORCID iDs
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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... This refers to "unusual stockpiling of a certain product or a broad range of goods (such as masks, sanitizers, gloves, groceries, food grains, toilet tissues, and medicines) fueled by the fear of stock-out or price increase" (Li, Zhou, Wong, Wang, & Yuen, 2021, p. 1). It has been stated that panic buying also includes purchases of sex toys (Arafat & Kar, 2021). The sale of sex-related products increased during lockdown in 2020, doubling in countries such as Australia, Colombia, Denmark, and the UK, and even tripling in New Zealand. ...
... In India, Ireland, and the United States, a 65%, 177%, and 30% increase in sex toy sales was recorded, respectively. In 2020, Chinese-manufactured sex-related production increased by over 50%, with consumers including France, the United States, and Italy (Arafat & Kar, 2021). The Global View Report (2021) stated that, during the pandemic, the sex-related objects market saw an increase of 26% and was valued at $33.64 billion in 2020, while in 2021, the market evidenced a decrease of 9% relative to the previous year. ...
... Undefined Undefined Naik (2020) You are, your safest sex partner. Solo sex or masturbation is quite safe and satisfying option as it does not transmit COVID-19 N/A Correspondence Shilo and Mor (2020) Participants spent more time in dating applications than in the presocial-distancing period and increased their use of sex phone, webcams, and porn consumption 2,562 Quantitative Vora et al. (2020) COVID-19 has worsened the domestic violence N/A Letter to editor Aoki and Kimura (2021) Culture, religion, and human figures has an effect on sex 39 Quantitative Arafat and Kar (2021) Individuals during the pandemic buy sex-toys in responses to perceived short supply, the anticipation of price hike, and perceived scarcity. ...
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Background Panic buying is an emerging phenomenon observed during, but not restricted to, pandemic. Aim We aimed to evaluate the nature, extent, and impact of panic buying as reported in the media. Methods This study was conducted by collecting the information from the English media reports published till 22nd May 2020. A structured format was developed to collect data. Searching was done by using the keyword “panic buying”. We have excluded the social media posts discussing the panic buying. Results The majority of media reporting was from the USA (40.7 %), and about 46 % of reports highlighted the scarce item. Approximately 82 % of the reports presented the causes of panic buying whereas almost 80 % report covered the impact of it. About 25.7 % of reports highlighted the rumor about panic buying and only 9.3 % of reports blamed the government. Only 27.1 % reports described the remedial measures, 30.8 % reports conferred the news on the psychology behind panic buying and 67.3 % news displayed the images of empty shelves. Conclusion A high proportion of reports on panic buying have been found from the developed countries discussing the causes & impact of panic buying on the basis of expert opinion.