Sales of sex toys have boomed during lockdown – and people are getting kinkier than ever, according to Ann Summers data

  • Since the pandemic first hit, people round the world have been buying more sex toys as they stay at home.
  • And people have been choosing kinkier options than usual, UK sex toy retailer Ann Summers told Insider, with sales of BDSM and high-tech equipment up in 2020.
  • "It appears we've been using our extra time to escape reality and try out new things in the bedroom," the retailer said.
  • Sales of sex dolls have risen in the US this year, but the apparel industry has taken a huge hit during the pandemic, and lingerie is no exception.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

People have been buying more sex toys during 2020 – and the products are kinkier than before, too, with more people buying BDSM and high-tech equipment.

Online sales of sex toys in the UK more than doubled when the country first entered lockdown in April. And this demand stayed strong over the course of 2020, sales data from British sex toys and lingerie specialist Ann Summers shows.

"The UK has become kinkier and more adventurous, with more people than ever spicing up their sex lives by trying out BDSM products and anal sex," Ann Summers said in a press release sent to Insider.

It sold nine times as many leatherette paddles for spanking in the week from November 26 as it did during the same week in 2020, and sales of spreader bars and ball gags & nipple clamps were up more than fourfold, too.

UK retail marketplace Love The Sales also noted that sales of bondage sets rose 97% and basque sets 101% from 2019 to 2020.

This interest in sexual experimentation during lockdown is reflected in what people have been googling in 2020. UK searches for "what is pegging in sex?" have seen a 250% increase, according to data from Google Trends, while "what is BDSM?" searches are up by 70%.

Ann Summers added: "2020 has been a difficult year for many and it appears we've been using our extra time to escape reality and try out new things in the bedroom."

Read more: Sex, death, and even poop: Entrepreneurs reveal how they built thriving brands around taboo topics

High-tech sex toys have dominated its sales this year, the company noted, with the thrusting g-spot rampant rabbit its best-selling sex toy of 2020. Sales of remote control sex toys have also risen, with sales of one product up eleven-fold year-on-year.

"It's clear from this data that consumers are starting to favor sex toys that are smarter, more innovative, and more tech-focused in order to provide the kind of pleasure they want," Ann Summers explained.

"For many, this isn't always a realistic dildo design, so we're seeing artistic, modern, simple, and abstract sex toy designs on the rise."

Interest in anal sex also rocketed during 2020, Ann Summers said. The company's Intro to Anal Kit was its best-selling anal sex product of 2020, suggesting that more people were trying it for the first time.

As well as trying different toys, couples have also been buying more games to spice up their sex lives during lockdown. Sales of Ann Summers' Kama Sutra Sex Positions Cards were up 144% year-on-year during Black Friday week, while sales of its Monogamy Couples Board Game and 50 Days of Play Couples Game more than tripled.

Ann Summers added that "people in the UK who are missing the office this year may be turning to roleplay," noting that Black Friday week sales of its Sexy Secretary outfit doubled in 2020. Its Santa dress was its 10th best-selling item during Black Friday week.

Read more: 2020's wild ride for sex work: Insiders report fiercer competition and an uptick in pandemic-related requests

It isn't just Brits that are buying more sex toys. Sex toy use in the US has grown 10% during the pandemic, according to a survey of 1,464 Americans by sex toy retailer Ella Paradis.

Some people are turning to other types of sex toys during the pandemic, too – including sex dolls.

The New York Post reported that Americans are buying more of the life-like dolls, with sales up 25% year-on-year, according to Silicon Wives owner Bryan Gill. The biggest spikes have been in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas, he added.

Although sex toy sales are booming, the apparel industry has taken a huge hit during the pandemic, and lingerie is no exception.

Mintel predicts that underwear sales in the UK will drop by 12% this year, with sales of high-end lingerie especially affected because of the cancellation of formal events such as weddings and parties.

But some lingerie companies and boutiques have seen above-average sales during the pandemic as people focus on self-care and divert their budgets from outdoor clothing. Love The Sales told Insider that sales of lingerie were up 49% year-on-year across its brands – including a 118% rise in sales of babydoll sets.

Silk lingerie is selling better than other fabrics these days because it's comfortable for working from home, one lingerie seller told Business Insider, and some companies have seen sales rise for other non-lingerie products, they say, such as loungewear and pajamas.

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