Sex-shop chain sees boom during lockdown in Mexico

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Sex sells, even during the new coronavirus pandemic.

Erotika, Mexico’s leading chain of sex and erotic stores, recently reported that its sales through digital channels had increased 280% since health authorities issued social distancing recommendations.  

The company’s more than 50 stores remain closed to the public, but to meet the demand of its consumers — 70% women and 30% men — it offers its products on its website. Purchases are then sent door to door through delivery apps to account for social distancing measures.

Diana Bernal, Erotika’s marketing director, says that even before the Mexican authorities issued recommendations to stay home, its sales increased considerably because many of its regular customers began to make “panic purchases.”

Then authorities announced the beginning of Phase 1 and people started to wonder about their sex life, she says.

“You realize you’re going to be stuck in your house for a long time with yourself,” Bernal said. “And then the question is: what the hell am I going to do about my sexual pleasure?”

In Mexico, as in other countries, applications such as Tínder or Bumble are often used by users seeking sexual encounters, but distancing measures caused the closure of public spaces such as bars, shopping malls, gyms and others.

According to Bernal, the “fear” of going out may have caused some users to choose to experiment with sex toys.

Although there is no way to say with any certainty who the end users of the products are, Bernal thinks that not only single users, but also couples, shop at Erotika.

Among the products that are most in-demand among women are masturbators (which cost 600 pesos, about US$25) and stimulation products (which cost 3,200 pesos, about US$130). For couples, the most sold products are oils (which cost 2,000 pesos, about US$ 83) and a bondage kit (sex with ties, for the same price).

As to their buyers, Bernal believes that women buy more because there are fewer items offered for men.

Although its online sales have tripled, the company, like many others that were not essential and had to close down, is suffering an economic crisis.

Having 56 physical stores closed has been a hard blow for Erotika, which continues to pay rent on many of its premises, in addition to its employees’ salaries.

According to Bernal, 70% of their sales were in the physical stores, but she is confident they will be able to get by until things return to normal.

What companies like Erotika have observed in the midst of the pandemic is that many people, out of embarrassment or taboo, do not visit their stores, but going online and with delivery through companies like Rappi, Cornershop, Amazon, and Linio, moral judgments are not part of the equation.

Bernal says they have realized that digitally they can grow 300 percent and that is a key performance indicator they want to keep during the pandemic, adding hopes that “when we come back and stores are open again, this demand will have impacted us in the stores as well.”

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