In many ways, the advent of a global pandemic has been a stroke of luck for the sex doll industry. With most of the world under strict government instruction to self-isolate in the privacy of one’s own home, consumer interest in hyperrealistic, silicone-based sexual partners is at an all-time high. And it’s not just lonely singles who are contributing to the boom in business.

A number of Australian sex doll manufacturers and distributors confirmed to Vice News that sales have been surging ever since lockdown measures were enforced around the country, with some vendors now reporting twice as many weekly purchases compared to what they were seeing before the coronavirus outbreak.

“Since COVID, we have noticed a considerable increase in sales or our sex dolls,” Matt, from online sex store Cherry Banana, told Vice News over email. “We’ve doubled our Cherry Doll sales since March, and now we sell four to five a week—or 20 to 25 a month.”

“It’s true,” said Andrew from Sex Doll Australia, another popular local vendor. “Since the hard lockdown stages of COVID-19 in Australia we’ve experienced an increase in sales of about 30 to 40 percent. It started in about May and has continued since then.”

Andrew’s also noticed another, perhaps less predictable trend in sex doll sales since COVID lockdowns came into effect: that more and more partners and couples are buying dolls for themselves and each other.

“In this new trend, we’ve got a husband buying a female doll alongside his wife, for him; a husband and wife buying dolls together, one for each other; and also a general increase in women buying male dolls for themselves.”

While these kinds of couple purchases weren’t completely unheard of in the days before the pandemic, Andrew says there’s been a significant uptick in interest among that particular demographic over the past few months.

Matt pointed to a number of other unusual enquiries that Cherry Banana customers have been making, including requests for a doll without any genitals, a doll with a tail, and a doll with three breasts.

“We also get a lot of requests for custom made heads,” he added.

The impacts of COVID on the industry haven’t all been positive, though. Kirk from Pleasure Dolls Australia told Vice News that while organic online traffic and enquiries have seen a major uptick, the disruptions that the pandemic has caused for postage, flights and general mobility has had a serious impact on the shipping and delivery of products.

“For international shipments, the logistics involved in finding suitable flights between the manufacturer and Australia has been greatly impacted,” said Kirk. “Over recent months it has not been unusual to have a doll waiting for up to a week between connecting flights, where ordinarily this might only be a few days at most.”

Kirk further noted that the Australian Border Force recently intensified its screening measures for all international shipments, which has had a major impact on the ease with which sex dolls can be imported into the country.

“On a small percentage of occasions a doll has been awaiting a customs clearance exam for up to 6 weeks, when the normal processing time is advertised as being up to 72 business hours,” he said.

Overall though, the coronavirus and its resultant lockdowns have been very good for the business of making and selling lifelike intimate partners—whether it’s for explicitly sexual purposes, or the sake of some much-needed pseudo human contact.

“We’re struggling to keep up with demand; they’re selling like hot cakes,” Ryan, from online sex store Southern Treasures, told Vice News. “We believe that those who are single or live by themselves want a human-like construct to just be near in these times. Despite scepticism, we've found from talking directly to our own customers that our dolls do actually provide emotional comfort as well as sexual expression.”

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This article originally appeared on VICE US.

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