Adult Retailing At New Crossroads

By on December 7, 2014

In 1986 there were fewer than 150 adult retail outlets in Australia turning over $50 million between them. In 2006 that figure had grown to over 1,000 and their combined turnover to half a billion dollars. That placed the industry alongside the sugar industry in terms of size and relevance to the Australian economy. It also signalled to legislators that this industry was not going to go away and needed regulation to make sure taxes were paid, that employees were being looked after and that the business community could make a legitimate profit.

During this period, two adult products companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and large adult destination stores started opening up alongside Bunnings and K Mart.

In 2005 the first statistically significant and reliable survey into the Australian community’s use of the adult retail industry was published. La Trobe University’s Sex in Australia survey (References) found that a whopping 25% of adult Australians were using products from the adult sex industry.

This phenomenal growth was underpinned by an unprecedented interest in adult sex products by the Australian public, alongside an unrelenting and acrimonious campaign of opposition to the industry by a small group of morals and religious campaigners. This opposition was often the result of ignorance and misinformation about the laws around the industry and a lack of understanding about the cultural milieu in which the industry is embedded. It often said more about the opposer than about the opposed.

Ten years later, the Australian adult retail picture has completely changed again and not necessarily for the best. We have lost 25% of our adult retail outlets. The X rated film is no longer the benchmark product that it was and now only represents possibly 20% of total turnover as the product migrates or has been purloined by internet site operators. In an effort to stay afloat many adult stores have been stocking a range of products that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. And that product innovation continues apace.

On another level, adult product is being ‘stolen’ by mainstream outlets in a way that was unthinkable 10 years ago. So where to from here?

The Eros Association is trying to engage with as many adult retailers and wholesalers as possible with the intention of calling a major industry summit to discuss an industry in crisis and at the crossroads. We have been at these crossroads twice before where government intervention threatened the future direction of our industry. Once in 1995 when John Howard announced plans to ban the X rating and once again in 2007 when he moved to make adult sites illegal in Australia. On both occasions we moved fast and created campaigns to stop both of these actions going ahead. The current crisis is different as it is being born from within the industry itself and needs a different response.

We would like to extend an open invitation to all adult traders to join Eros and become involved in these discussions. As in 1995 and 2007, Eros members were able to have their voice heard above the din and clamour of others. And so it will be again.  Make sure your voice is part of that.

Tangible Eros member benefits include:

  • Fortnightly e-news with industry relevant content including access to the member’s only section of our website – whilst people are free to sign up to our e-news, only members get access to the premium articles;
  • Inclusion in our online member’s directory;
  • Inclusion in our member’s directory iPhone app (currently being developed);
  • Eros Member and Eros Supporter banners for your website;
  • Advice on start-up issues to consider (such as Google’s tightening of content restrictions and how to maximise your website’s SEO – see, as well as ongoing advice and recommendations; and
  • Access to our Affiliate Members who offer various services with the assurance that they are happy and willing to work with adult only businesses, will not judge or discriminate and will have an understanding of your business needs.

Call membership manager, Joel Murray, on 03 93472332 for details.

Author  – Robbie Swan, Eros Coordinator



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