Sex toy industry doing well despite recession

     Despite the on going recession, sales of sex toys have gone up both online and in stores. From Web behemoth Amazon to Brooklyn boutique store Shag, sales of an increasing range of sexual accessories are on the rise. "Everyone says thank God you opened - it's about time," the New York Daily News quoted Sam Bard, 36, who co-founded Shag in Williamsburg last December, as saying. "Each month's been better than the last," she said. The "sexy shop" sells everything from vintage handcuffs to body paints and hosts sex-themed events like "introductory lessons in rope-bondage". Bard believes the recession helped the business, which opened on Roebling St. for rent considered low for the gentrified neighbourhood. "More couples are staying at home to save money, so rather [than] spending 150 dollars on a one-time dinner, they will spend the same amount for toys that will continue to be used indefinitely," she said. Sex accessories store Babeland, which has three outlets in the city, makes half of its sales online. It recorded an 18 percent spike in Web visitors and a 13 percent jump in sales in 2009. "New Yorkers account for the biggest percentage of our online sales," spokeswoman Pamela Doan said. Meanwhile, even household company names are getting in on the action. Amazon launched its Sexual Wellness page in 2003 with 338 items, mainly condoms and lubricants. But it soon began to market more adventurous items - restraints, vibrators and flavoured lubricants. "We've seen this category grow pretty significantly over the last couple of years," said spokeswoman Charmaine Diploa. Now the company stocks nearly 60,000 items, with adult toys and games being the biggest share. Amazon reckons its sales surge is due to its discretion - and unique brand of convenience. "Customers receive an Amazon box and no one needs to know what's inside except for that customer," said Diploa. She added: "And they love the fact they can purchase a vibrator, a watch and a Kindle all in one place."

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