Australian sex doll sales booming during coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has rattled the global economy, disrupting supply chains and forcing businesses to close down, either temporarily or for good.

But there are some sections of the economy that have seen a boon from the lockdowns and social distancing mandates imposed by governments around the world – and one of them seems to be the adult toy industry.

Sydney man Ryan James runs a side business supplying adult toys and sex dolls, or as he calls them, “companion dolls or love dolls”.

“We have definitely seen a jump in sales in recent months of our dolls,” he told Yahoo News Australia.

After starting the online business about two years ago, he says the company has seen a roughly 35 per cent increase in traffic to its website during the pandemic.

“What we’ve seen in recent months is definitely an increase in our website clicks,” Mr Ryan said. “And also inquiries, there’s been tonnes of emails to look at.

“The past eight weeks tracking, we’ve seen a 35 per cent increase in web volume.”

A photo of a Southern Treasures sex doll left, and right a file image of a man in bed. Source: SouthernTreasures/Getty
At least anecdotally, the pandemic has seen a spike in interest in adult toys. Source: SouthernTreasures (left) /Getty Images (file pic right)

While customers often correspond through email before making a purchase, Mr Ryan said it is translating into sales for the dolls which cost around $3,000 to $4,000 each.

“I believe it’s because people have less opportunity to socialise at the moment with restrictions in place and it’s kind of causing a bit of frustration with people,” he said.

“While it’s not the same thing to own a doll, those that are single or might be having trouble with relationships or obtaining a partner, it’s just something to provide a bit of comfort, I guess.”

Mr Ryan has a day job working in warehouse logistics but says his Southern Treasures business is taking up more of his spare time in the evenings.

He began by selling “bits and pieces” on eBay before moving into the importation of sex dolls. The company is essentially a “drop shipping” business, which acts as a local distributor and relies on international manufacturers who build the customisable dolls.

“We did have problems with shipping delays, that was earlier on but now we’re starting to see it come back which is great,” Mr Ryan said of shipping disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic.

In order to get dolls to customers more quickly, the business is now keeping more dolls on hand to satisfy demand.

Mr Ryan's website has pop-ups of recent purchases on a loop to reduce stigma for other potential buyers. Source: SoutherTreasures/Getty
Mr Ryan's website has pop-ups of recent purchases on a loop to reduce stigma for other potential buyers. Source: SoutherTreasures/Getty

Data about the size of Australia’s sex doll market is hard to come by but judging by what Australian Customs officials tell Mr Ryan, it might be bigger than most people think.

“It’s competitive in the sense that we hear from Customs [workers] – because everything that comes through we will get contacted to provide evidence of payment of GST – and Customs tell us they get hundreds of these things coming through,” he said.

A similar uptick in demand has been reported in overseas markets with Adam and Eve, a company with franchised locations across North America, seeing a 30 per cent increase in online sales in March and April, the New York Times reported.

Meanwhile one sex doll maker, Sex Doll Genie, told Forbes it experienced a near 50 per cent jump in demand during the US lockdown.

Ryan Gosling in the 2007 romance film Lars and the Real Girl.
Ryan Gosling in the 2007 romance film Lars and the Real Girl.

Despite the stigma some people attach to the notion of sex dolls, Mr Ryan said he is happy to be providing something of comfort to Australians during a difficult time.

“There's always going to be people who are against what we do. I am super proud of my achievements and how our dolls have helped people with their own struggles, mentally, socially, and sexually,” he said.

Whether it’s amateur stock picking, online gambling, or sex toys, Australians, it seems, are indulging their passions during the pandemic.

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.