Of all the horrible things that we've heard in the news about the fallout from the Greek debt crisis — the political turmoil, the record 21.7 percent unemployment rate, the fact that My Big Fat Greek Wedding star Nia Vardalos hasn't been able to get work — the impact that the recession has had on sales of items like, say, Fleshlights, is rarely mentioned. Yet if a recent article in the Telegraph is any indication, sex shop owners and others in the sex industry have been among the hardest hit by the debt crisis: only a quarter of the 300 to 400 sex shops that were in Athens five years ago are still operating today, and attendance rates at Greece's largest sex fair, the Athens Erotic Dream, have been steadily plummeting.
Although most businesses have suffered tremendously since the country entered a recession a few years ago, the sex industry was particularly hard-hit because most Greek sex shops are owned by small family businesses, which are entirely dependent on foreign suppliers and face tough competition from overseas. Additionally, many Greek sex shops haven't quite shaken their reputations as lurid, sticky-floored dens of iniquity; most sex toy stores in Athens, for instance, are located in back alleyways and on top of car washes and fast food restaurants in seedy parts of town. (As opposed to more centrally-located stores in cities like Amsterdam and Madrid, where sex shops are so commonplace that purchasing a butt plug is basically as easy as ordering a Big Mac.)
According to some in the industry, however, the primary reason why business has slowed so dramatically is because people are simply less interested in bonin' on one another. As one retailer who claimed her store brought in only twenty Euros a day explained, "some customers just don't feel like having sex – others can't afford to buy our stuff in the crisis." Yeah, if your country is in the midst of sweeping political upheaval and economic devastation, shopping for a gold-plated vibrator with its own USB drive is probably not high on your list of priorities.