Boom Days for vice shops: Booze, weed and porn explode during COVID pandemic

Boom Days for vice shops: Booze, weed and porn explode during COVID pandemic

The vice industries are not struggling for businesses

VicesApril 29, 2020 By Will Brendza

In case you haven’t noticed, there isn’t much to do right now.

The bars and restaurants are closed, the parks and campgrounds are closed as well, concerts are cancelled, festivals have been foregone and the Governor is pleading with people not to rush back to “normal life” lest we catalyze a second wave of COVID-19.

So, what are people doing instead?

Indulging at home, alone, in all of their Earthly vices, of course. Taking this downtime to fill up on all their guilty pleasures: booze, weed, porn, guns, the works. And why not? Times are strange and they might be getting hard soon. We might as well enjoy the comforts and simple pleasures of this world before it changes too much.  

That’s been my thinking over the last two months anyway — I’ve been smoking more weed and drinking more whiskey in a week than I normally do in a month.

And, according to the numbers, I’m not alone. According to the sales rates at liquor stores and dispensaries, and the data coming back from places like Pornhub, everyone is doubling down on their “vice” consumption. We’re all bored and stuck at home, stressed out and worried about the future, so we’re all indulging in those little things that take our minds off the situation at hand.

Take a toke, it’ll be alright, the little voice inside your head whispers. Pour a stiff one, things are gonna’ be okay, it says. Go ahead, have another wank. What else are you going to do?

Needless to say, business has been very good for those in the business of vices — these are the boom days for those shops. And until people have another outlet to drown their sorrows and vent their frustration into, the boom days will continue.

“I’ve been just as busy, if not busier than I normally am,” says Doug Fensky, the ale ambassador at Bonfire Brewing in Eagle, Colorado. Fensky has been delivering beer in style, to locals throughout the Vail Valley since the Stay-at-Home order was put in place.

Not surprisingly, either. People have been buying alcohol like we’re running out of it. The Associated Press reported that, alcohol sales throughout the US have surged to as high as 55% in recent weeks. At the beginning of April, hard spirit sales were up 75% compared to last year; wine was up 66%; and beer was up 42%.

“There's actually a lot of people that are buying kegs around here too for home delivery, which is awesome,” Fenske tells me, chuckling.

The cannabis industry has likewise seen a spike in business since the pandemic swallowed the nation. Dispensaries throughout Colorado have been consistently slammed, selling as much weed as they do on Holidays like 4/20, every day of the week. In Oregon, too, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission says that cannabis sales through March were up by 30%.

"Our sales are booming," Chuck Blackton, owner of Verde dispensaries in Boulder and Denver, told Westword.

Then, of course, you have porn. Because people aren’t just bored, they’re horny too — with so much social distancing and all the bars and clubs closed, how is any single human supposed to get their rocks off?

On their own, of course.

Which is exactly what they’re doing, if the numbers tell us anything. Just take a look at this graph from Pornhub, illustrating their worldwide traffic from February to March. The onset of COVID and the enforcement of a pandemic shutdown are not hard to spot in the data.

vicesImage courtesy of Pornhub.

All of this just goes to show what people latch onto in times like these. No, most of us don’t need alcohol or weed to survive on a day-to-day basis, but it certainly helps cope with a crisis like this one. No matter what your pastor, priest, DARE councilor or helicopter parents might tell you, drugs and porn can be good for your sanity. Vices can be survival mechanisms — psychological life-vests in this shipwrecked world. 

Just try to exercise some moderation, and we’ll all come out of this okay.