Sex Drive Goes Up as Economy Goes Down in New Zealand

Tod Hunter
AUCKLAND, New Zealand —As the credit crunch spreads worldwide, the people of New Zealand are turning to sex, drugs like tobacco and alcohol, and rock and roll.

Wendy Lee, owner of the designer sex shop chain Dvice, told the New Zealand Herald that the company's sales could be up in New Zealand and Australia about 20 percent this year, with customers purchasing more high-priced items retailing at $105-$140 that are medical-grade, made in Sweden and likely to last longer.

"They say people have more sex during recessions and we'd definitely say that was true of what we are seeing," Lee said.

Dvice appeared at the Sydney Sexpo in July and Auckland's Erotica Lifestyles Expo in August.

Heath Blackler, national manager for adult entertainment retailer Video Expo, said "people are still buying porn."

Online condom retailer Discreet Condoms New Zealand told the Herald that September sales were up 42 percent over August, at the same time that Wall Street had downturns. Discreet Condoms Managing Director Duncan Costley said that the increased sales could be due to the onset of spring.

Brian Le Gros, owner of the Whitehouse strip club in Auckland, said that the Whitehouse remains busy while many of Auckland's bars are shutting their doors earlier on Friday and Saturday nights. Le Gros pointed out that his customers are generally businessmen who are still willing to spend on entertainment.

"Maybe they are not going to buy a house but I think they are still looking to go out and have a good time," Le Gros said.

Mark Baker, general manager of retail sales and performance at a supermarket chain, said that "over the past three months we have observed a noticeable increase in both the number of units and dollar value of tobacco and alcohol when compared to sales 12 months ago."

And, like with sex toys, people are starting to buy higher-priced units. Baker said "this may be because they are choosing to entertain at home rather than go out."

And for rock and roll, Morag Clark, of the Auckland Rock 'n' Roll Club, says that while the club has struggled to attract members over the past few years, interest has increased over the past couple of months.

Paul Pickering, senior lecturer in sales, management and marketing at the Auckland University of Technology, said when people cut back economically, it is a common phenomenon for them to reward themselves in other ways.

"It's compensating," Pickering said. "When there's less money in the house and things get tight, people reward themselves with lower-priced, but nevertheless indulgent, items."