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IC not following condom trend

BY JENNIFER DELGADO | FEBRUARY 19, 2009 7:44 AM

In today’s faltering economy, it’s good to be in the condom business.

Researchers at the Nielsen Co., an organization that measures retail trends, found more people are purchasing prophylactics. From latex and lubricated to sizes and sensations, condom sales brought in roughly $311.7 million between January 2008 and January 2009 — a 4 percent increase from the year before. The findings, released Wednesday, coincide with National Condom Week, which began on Feb. 14.

Durex spokeswoman Jennifer Grizzle said one reason for the spike may be because more people are at home “nesting” to save money because of the economy.

“People are planning not to have a pregnancy in times like these,” she said. “Condoms are affordable pregnancy prevention — more people are staying in, cooking dinner, and renting a blockbuster.”

UI senior Kyle Prieboy said he agrees with the Grizzle’s theory — he and his girlfriend haven’t eaten out as much because they want to cut back on spending.

“We’ve been staying in because of money and not wanting to spend as much,” the 22-year-old said, who noted he and his girlfriend are using more condoms.

Durex reported a 6 percent rise in condom sales this January compared with January last year, Grizzle said. A similar increase occurred at all condom companies: From Dec. 28 to Jan. 24, Nielsen reported a 5.3 increase in sales from the previous year.

But UI and Johnson County health officials said they haven’t noticed the trend hitting the area.
For the last few years, UI Student Health Service has steadily ordered 86,000 packaged contraceptives, said Tanya Villhauer, an associate director of Health Iowa. Although the program’s officials hand out condoms to students, education courses, and different organizations, they haven’t seen an increase in condom demands.

Villhauer said she was unsure if the economy could lift condom sales or force Student Health to order more contraceptives.

“It could be a possibility, but we don’t know if this is long-term,” she said. “The economy hits everyone differently.”

Condoms are appealing because they are recession-proof, Grizzle said. The cost of a 12-pack of variety Durex condoms costs $4.98 at the Coralville Super Wal-Mart.

“Other forms of contraceptives involve doctor’s visits, and that’s more expensive,” Grizzle said.
Katie Miller, a health-promotion coordinator for the Johnson County Public Health Department, said she was unaware of the increase. The health department hands out roughly 40,000 condoms every year.

Grizzle said another reason for the increase is the winter season, which generally brings in more revenue for the company.

“More people are snuggling in because of winter,” Grizzle said. “It’s a force of nature you can’t stop.”


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