The world of mainstream retail has long offered sales, last-minute price cuts and other deals to entice consumers to spend their hard-earned dollars. Now, as the holidays are bearing down during an economic recession the likes of which hasn’t been witnessed for years, retailers are trying to figure out ways to hold onto dollars while getting customers to let go of their own.
The National Retail Foundation is predicting that sales this holiday season will be 1 percent lower than last year, meaning it will be the first time in 40 years that sales have dropped two years running. The NRF reports that sales were down 3.4 percent last year.
“This is the year consumers can lose the game of chicken,” Scott Krugman, vice president for public affairs for the NRF in Washington, told the Christian Science Monitor. “It’s not wise to put off most shopping for the last minute.”
So what does all that mean for the world of adult novelties and pleasure items? As consumers are being warned not to wait until the last minute, retailers shouldn’t wait until the last possible second to stock their shelves for the holidays.
“It used to be that stores would keep six pieces on their shelves, and when they sold three, they would order six more,” explains Dennis Paradise, owner of Paradise Marketing, a distribution company that’s been doing business in adult and mainstream for more than 30 years. “Now, many retailers are keeping three pieces, and when they are down to one, they order three more.”
While retailers might think they are playing it smart by waiting, Paradise says, the reality is that consumers will likely finish their shopping earlier, so adult retailers need to make sure their shelves are stocked with the right items soon enough to allow consumers the time to find and buy those items.
And picking the right items is crucial, he notes. Consumers, he said, are more fundamental in their buying this year, especially as it relates to the adult market.
“Customers are not going to be buying those items they can only use once, or can only use a short time period,” Paradise says in his predictions for the holiday shopping season. “Think of it like coats: They are going to be buying not the minks, but the wool.”
The NRF is predicting mainstream retailers might be offering more discounts and promotions to attract customers, and also will be keeping their inventory low to avoid getting stuck with a lot of extra product in January.
Keeping a low amount of inventory also holds true for adult retailers, Paradise notes, but he adds that retailers who are thinking they can wait until the last minute for an extra deal will miss out.
“The waiting time is over,” he says. “What you miss by waiting is the opportunity to make a sale today, or even
yesterday, because you do not have that item on your shelf.”
And speaking of items, AVN has some suggestions for seasonal specialties to help freshen up those holiday displays.
The Dirty Flirty Novelty Company
Naughty, nice and everything in between, these three-dimensional glass ornaments have all the bases covered. From elves or gingerbread people “doing it” to luscious lips and sexy firemen, there’s a pornament to fit every taste. The “Ginger Style” ornament is one of the best sellers in this line.
Retailing: Decorate a little tree for big profits.
Diamond Edition Princess
Perfect for Christmas or Valentine’s Day, new red versions of the Diamond Edition of vibrators from Evolved are packaged in new white tins and accented with a red bow. The black version of the Princess vibe has made the entire line a best-seller, and the addition of Evolved’s deep red coloring is sure to do just as well.
Retailing: A POP display is available to showcase the Diamond Edition to those last-minute shoppers.
Materials: Non-toxic ABS
Xmas Plush Cuff Set
This holiday-themed product from the popular Fetish Fantasy Series line boasts everything you need to turn that nice person naughty. Velvety soft wrist and ankle cuffs are trimmed with fur and linked with a silver chain. A flirty Santa hat completes the ensemble.
Retailing: Point out that the cuffs, minus the hat, are great to use straight through Valentine’s Day.
Contents: Wrist cuffs, ankle cuffs, Santa hat
A classic with a twist: The candy cane-shaped Don Wands glass dildo features red striping and comes packaged in a plushy red stocking. Also included is mistletoe. Your customers can start some new holiday traditions with this complete kit.
Retailing: Upsell with lube and toy cleaner.
Contents: Candy cane-shaped glass wand, stocking, mistletoe
3-in-1 Suntouched Massage Candle
These massage candles are made of natural soy that, when melted, can be used as warm massage oil or a skin moisturizer. The three holiday-inspired scents are meant to capture the essence of the holidays, reminiscent of candy canes, pumpkin pie and warm nights by the fire.
Retailing: Keep one burning to capture customers’ attentions.
Scents: Mintastic, Smashing Pumpkin, Fireside Frankincense
L’essence du Boudoir
Perfect for Valentine’s Day or anytime, this perfume is designed not for the body, but for the bedroom. A few quick spritzes give an exotic, alluring scent to bedding, setting the mood for an evening of passion and romance.
Retailing: Display a tester with strips of paper to let customers smell the perfume.
Scent: A mixture of rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, woody scents and exotic spices
Tease & Please
This lovers’ game will help partners discover sexual boundaries and reveal secret fantasies. Versions are available for straight and gay couples. Each heart-shaped box contains scrolls that encourage (S)experiments and (S)explorations. The scrolls are printed with English on one side and Spanish on the other.
Retailing: Keep one open so buyers can get an idea of what the scrolls contain.
Materials: Cardboard box, paper scrolls, plastic tweezers
Varieties: Versions for straight and gay couples
This sexy card game—perfect as a stocking stuffer for Christmas or for Valentine’s Day—allows couples to express their thoughts on love, fantasies and more. Designed for two players, the game lets lovers guess what the other would answer to erotic questions. Rather than instruct couples on specific acts to participate in, Loving Desires acts as a springboard for lovers to discuss their wants and desires.
Retailing: Create a romantic display with Loving Desires as the centerpiece.
Contents: 52 cards, rule book
Three-Piece Plus-Size Christmas Elf Set
Soft, stretchy fabric will fit any shape and cling in all the right places, while the bells give the ensemble an air of whimsy. A halter-style green mini-dress is accented with a small red-ribbon bow at the breast, and comes with a green G-string and green headband accented with jingle bells.
Retailing: If you traditionally stock plus-size garments, carry this holiday set.
Contents: Halter-style mini-dress, G-string, headband
Liberator Silk Binding Sashes
Part of Liberator’s Role-Play line, these inviting silk Binding Sashes are meant to stimulate your senses and arouse your mind by opening you up to the alluring realm of seductive bondage. If you’re willing to have some fun, these silky delights will conjure up ‘come-hither’ in no time. Although silk sashes may seem like quite a simple concept, it makes a big difference when they are sewn really well and made of a high-quality fabric.
Retailing: If you can’t have a live model, use a mannequin to display these bondage items.
Contents: Three 7-foot and two 14-foot silk sashes, carrying case
Materials: Silk fabric
Uncle Don’s Exotic Interludes
Uncle Don’s Exotic Interludes
Exotic Interludes is similar enough to other board games—there’s a banker, properties, spaces where players must draw cards—that it’s almost familiar, but the sexual innuendo, risqué behavior, and other adult twists really turn up the heat. Stock this game for the holidays if you cater to couples, and particularly if they are swingers. Players can sell their clothes to the banker, perform certain acts rather than pay rent, and discuss questions about sexuality; much better than having everyone over for leftover turkey.
Retailing: Push as a great gift from husbands to wives, or vice versa.
Players: Two to four
Holiday Limited Edition Elise Pink
Just in time for the holidays, Elise Pink will be released in limited quantities, making it the most exclusive of LELO’s pleasure objects. Made with FDA-approved and phthalate-free ABS/silicone, it delivers up to four hours of near-silent vibrations after just a two-hour charge. Additionally, Elise is presented in an elegant gift box and luxury satin pouch for discreet storage, complete with charger, user manual and a full one-year LELO warranty.
Retailing: Elise is a hit for a reason, and the phrase “limited edition” always helps sales.
Power: AC adapter (rechargeable)
Materials: ABS, silicone
Wet Together Ultimate
Wet Together Ultimate Pleasure Gels for Him and for Her uses transdermal technology to get the blood flowing to the surface of the skin for greater sensation. The formula for her gently tingles and provides clitoral sensation and greater natural lubrication while Enhancement Gel for Him provides a more pleasurable climax cycle, longer-lasting satisfaction and greater performance.
Retailing: Keep some open to let customers feel the differences between the gels and how they work together.
Sizes: Two 0.5-ounce tubes
Formulas: One for women, one for men
This article originally ran in the November issue of AVN.