Sex toys sales explode in France as Covid curtails Valentine’s celebrations

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Feb 12, 2021, 08:36 PM(IST)

For a long time, the French were slow to accept sex toys, a taboo that had been slowly wearing off before the pandemic left many couple with more time on their hands at home Photograph:( Twitter )

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The Passage du Desir chain of stores, which sells sex toys and other couple's accessories, has seen a 74 percent increase in sales of the products since the end of 2020, the company's founder Patrick Pruvot told Reuters on Wednesday (February 10).

Like so many other countries in the world, France has embraced what is generally perceived as an American concept - although Valentine's Day was originally English - and turned it into something of its own.

French people celebrate Valentine's Day too, although here it is known as la fête de Saint-Valentin or, simply, la Saint-Valentin.

Sales of the intimate accessories have exploded in France in recent months, amid COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions that have barred couples the usual romantic dinners and getaways and prevented singles from mingling in bars and night clubs.

The Passage du Desir chain of stores, which sells sex toys and other couple's accessories, has seen a 74 percent increase in sales of the products since the end of 2020, the company's founder Patrick Pruvot told Reuters on Wednesday (February 10).

"Traditionally, sex toys are a gift that does a lot better during Valentine's Day," Pruvot said. "This year, in addition, people can't spend their money on restaurants, maybe that plays into it, too."

In the three months running up to this year's Valentine's Day, sales at the Passage du Desir's seven outlets jumped 68% on previous months. A year earlier, sales rose by just 12% during the same period ahead of Feb. 14.

Other countries have seen a similar trend during COVID lockdowns. From Denmark to usually conservative Colombia, sales of sex toys leapt early in the pandemic, while British lingerie chain Ann Summer reported higher sales during the first confinement.

France prides itself as a nation of seducers. Seduction influences not just how the French relate to one another, but how they do business, define style, elect politicians and enjoy food and drink, wrote Elaine Sciolino in her book La Seduction.

For a long time, the French were slow to accept sex toys, a taboo that had been slowly wearing off before the pandemic left many couple with more time on their hands at home, Pruvot said.

"Maybe at a time when everything is forbidden, sexuality is one of our last bastions of freedom, that's how we could interpret it," Pruvot said.

According to a study done by French survey institution Ifop, 51 percent of French people have used a sex toy in 2020, the first the number reached a majority the population. The figure was at 48 percent in 2019, and a mere 9 percent in 2007.

Inside the store on Wednesday, 21-year-old Maryne Fraudin browsed the shelves to buy a kinky game for her boyfriend for the day of lovers. It was her first time buying such a present.

"We normally go to a restaurant, but now, that's going to be a bit complicated, so I thought it might please him to have a bit of attention apart from a restaurant meal that we can't have," she said.

For Parisian couple Anthony Jeka and Laura Vallarino, though, the lovers' game that they purchased is not their first bedroom accessory. The store regulars said thanks to COVID-19, they could pay more attention to each other in bed.

"What can we do if we can't go out, when we have to be home at 6 p.m., when we stay at home? And so yes, this makes sense, this explains the increase in sales," Jeka said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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