Manager of Flirt Adult Store Coffs Harbour Ayla Snowball (right) with colleague Jacinta Hall. The pair have been helping a growing number of people start their journey into the world of sex toys. Photo: Tim Jarrett
Manager of Flirt Adult Store Coffs Harbour Ayla Snowball (right) with colleague Jacinta Hall. The pair have been helping a growing number of people start their journey into the world of sex toys. Photo: Tim Jarrett

ADULTS ONLY: Sex toy sales rocket during COVID

PUTTING a whole new meaning on the term 'stimulus package' skyrocketing sex toy sales give us some idea of how Coffs Coast residents are coping with the pandemic.

"You need the necessities and (during the lockdowns) everybody's brains went to toilet paper and adult toys," said Ayla Snowball, manager of Flirt Adult Store in Coffs Harbour.

Since the pandemic hit sex toy sales at the Little St store has grown by 400 per cent, resulting in Ms Snowball putting on more staff.

And last weekend they became the first Flirt store in NSW to open on Sundays.

It is a trend seen across the country, with other adult stores also reporting big spikes in trade, particularly for what have been dubbed 'long-distance relationship' devices.

With people stuck across borders across the world, LDR and couples' toys have been leading the charge with some advancing on remote-control toys by allowing people to control them via apps from anywhere in the world.

Manager of Flirt Adult Store Coffs Harbour Ayla Snowball says products have been flying off the shelves during COVID. Photo: Tim Jarrett
Manager of Flirt Adult Store Coffs Harbour Ayla Snowball says products have been flying off the shelves during COVID. Photo: Tim Jarrett

That led to the company recently offering discounts to those trapped in lockdown in Melbourne.

And while the pandemic has been a catalyst for much of the boom, Ms Snowball said the growth in the sex toy industry is reflective of a renewed openness about sexuality.

"The stigma is disappearing and now people are stuck at home they have had no other choice other than looking to pleasure themselves and open their ideas," she said.

"That has made the conversation bigger so people are talking about it more.

"And one little conversation can lead to ten other women knowing about that one specific toy and that (drives) sales."

As taboos around sexuality continue to be broken down, so too does the myth of adult stores themselves, with most being light-years away from the caricature-image of a dingy store in a back alley filled only with porn and fake penises.

The proliferation of products designed by women has contributed to the growth of the industry which is now worth an estimated US $26 billion worldwide, and that was before the pandemic.

It has also meant toys have moved beyond the one-shape-fits-all and inside is a colourful array a longside lubricants, health products, costumes and magazinesand in the space of a few minutes people of all ages and genders pop in and out of the store.

"We try and make it as comfortable as possible for everybody - you just have to get past that door," Ms Snowball said.

"Once you are past that door it is all fun and games."