We may have been in recession since 2008, but it seems like no one has told the sex toy industry. While major industries have faced the strain of the economic downturn, sales in erotic items in the UK have increased by as much as 400%. It has been estimated that the average British adult spends £6.57 on their sex lives per year, and the entire market has been valued at £250 million a year. The increase in consumer demand in this particular industry has had such dramatic effect on the economy as a whole, that it has been named as a factor for pushing the UK out of recession.
It’s not just the UK that is benefitting from the boost in the sale of erotic items; the US sex toy market has also seen a record increase. The market has been valued at $7 billion per year and is projected to reach $52 billion by 2020.
Theories to explain the cause of this inflation range from the success of adult novel trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey to recession hit couples looking for a cost effective way to enjoy their evenings. The success of Fifty Shades of Grey is certainly a compelling factor; the first book of the series has enjoyed a wide readership, selling 31 million copies and has been translated into 33 different languages. Author E.L. James has even collaborated with sex toy manufacturers to create the official bondage kit for the series, set to be sold across the UK and America in late November.
Inevitably, this increase in the sale of sex toys and the role it has played in encouraging economic growth has been heavily scrutinised. Health store Boots were criticised last January for selling sex toys prominently in their stores nationwide, sparking controversy as children could easily see them. But the rise in popularity of sex toys is proving to be a hard trend to buck. Channel 4’s documentary More Sex Please We’re British, looking into the working lives of online sex toy retailers Lovehoney, is indicative of how our culture has become increasingly more open about our sex lives.
This lead to the discovery of a rather interesting website. Lovehoney have now set up a “Sex Map”, a website allowing anyone to search a town or city in the UK and find out how much residents spend on their sex lives in relation to the national average.
Egham, according to www.lovehoney.co.uk/sexmap, spends 1.7 times the national average per year on their sex lives, and, most notably, 2.9 times the national average on erotic shoes and costumes. This is a notable increase on our neighbouring town Staines, where residents spend 1.2 times the national average on sex toys.
The expanding nature and enigmatic allure of this market has injected substantial capital into a previously closed area, granting a rather unexpected boost to the economy of the United Kingdom.