The secret Valentine: Malta’s online sex shops find a fertile market

As commerce and technology allow for greater freedom in the purchase and delivery of goods, so comes a greater business for the purveyors of sex toys

People’s attitude towards sex in Malta has never been more open, especially amongst younger age groups who shun the prudishness of the island’s conservative bastions.

But as commerce and technology allow for greater freedom in the purchase and delivery of goods, so comes a greater business for the purveyors of sex toys – items which in the past were risqué objects obtained only by the most sexually adventurous, but now come by the national post from a warehouse in Malta.

PleasureMalta.com was set up in 2008, selling the entire variety of sex toys, from the ubiquitous vibrators to bondage collars online. A spokesperson for the company said the interest in its products has not waned one bit since the start of the business. “As time goes by, people are becoming more aware of the availability of sex toys. And we see a significant surge in sales around Valentine’s Day too, especially in the three days preceding the special day for ‘lovers’, when many are choosing to buy sex toys for the occasion.”

This intersection of love and sex toys does not only happen on the day dedicated to lovers. Erotic films hitting the mainstream screens have the power to kindle people’s interest in toys which, in other ordinary circumstances, would be considered verboten.

“When Fifty Shades of Grey hit the cinemas a few years ago, we experienced a large surge in products related to BDSM [an umbrella term covering erotic practices including bondage, discipline, dominance and submission], and in products such as sex dolls, which weren’t that popular previously,” the PleasureMalta spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for Toysfourplay.com, launched earlier in 2002, had similar views on how more people were embracing the use of sex toys and related products. “Since Fifty Shades was a mainstream film, it helped many to explore more their sexuality without feeling ashamed or judged by society. And Fifty Shades branded products, and other products related to the film, saw an increase in sales,” he remarked.

Various niches of people will fall across two vague categories of BDSM consumers: those opting for heavy gear, while others preferring ‘lighter’ bondage objects, which tend to be more popular. “The plastic stuff – such as whips, handcuffs and blindfolds – are sold regularly. But others, who are more seriously into BDSM, buy more durable accessories,” PleasureMalta’s spokesperson said.

And naturally, apart from toys, comes an interest in products that help people with sexual problems, most commonly items such as sprays which delay ejaculation.

“We have a sex and sexuality consultant who advises us, and this is reflected in the products we choose to order. Disabled people, older people and pregnant women might also want to buy products which they can use in their particular situation,” the spokesperson said, adding  that even condoms and lubrication are being purchased online, by consumers seeking to avoid awkward situations at the supermarket till.

The spokesperson for Toysfourplay remarked how a more open-minded and sexually mature society had helped business, confirming the effect of Valentine’s Day on the sale of sex toys. “The Valentine’s period is always one of the peaks of annual sales… The products are bought by people of ages ranging from 18 to well over 70, but they are most popular with those aged 30 to 50. Clients come from all walks of life.”

While sex is definitely less of a taboo in Malta in this day and age, confidentiality remains a key factor of the online business.

“We receive an order without knowing anything about the person buying it. One person receives the order, and the other dispatches the wrapped product, so nobody would know which person bought which product. The toys are wrapped in discrete packaging, which gives no indication of what is inside,” PleasureMalta’s spokesperson highlighted.

“Deliveries can be made to a person’s home, but we also accept requests to deliver to places such as hotel rooms, and sometimes the buyers come to pick up the products they purchased themselves.”

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