How the toilet paper shortage affected smart toilet sales
The year of 2020 has bought a range of different challenges in many forms, and it is only 6 months into the year. But the toilet paper shortage of 2020 has to be one of the oddest ones so far - it didn’t really make much sense? - but it happened and we are on the other side now.
The toilet paper shortage however did affect one thing - the interest in the Australian community about smart toilets. Before COVID-19, people weren’t that interested in fancy toilets and bidets. In March 2020 however, Google searches for bidets increased by over 1,000% in Australia, with Google data also showing that searches for “smart toilets” spiked to their highest point nationally since tracking began in 2004.
Bidets and other forms of smart toilets are not a new thing though - in 1957, a Swiss inventor named Hans Maurer combined a toilet and a bidet, and the Japanese have been using ‘alternative toileting devices’ for decades. In 2002, over 50% of Japanese homes had them… and you can only imagine what the figures are around 18 years later.
From feminine washing settings to glowing night lights to electronic lids that lift on approach, the options are endless. Ask anyone who has been on a holiday to Japan - they will likely discuss the ‘fancy toilets’ that have a range of flushing, washing and drying modes, making toilet paper a thing of the past.
Toto is a well-known Japanese brand that has been making sophisticated toilets since the 1980’s, and their NSW distributor has recorded around a 200% increase in enquiries since the toilet paper shortage began. And, given their designs pretty much make toilet paper redundant, you can understand why.
And, although interest is starting to slow as the Coronavirus continues, especially since toilet paper is becoming available again, there is still enough to warrant a public warning by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission. On the 8th of April, they stated that “the failure to properly install these products, including installation of a suitable backflow prevention device, may lead to water supply contamination, posing serious risks to health and safety”.
Now, convenience comes at a price. If you are considering an alternative toileting device for your home, Toto smart toilets start at $9,000 and only go up. There are other, less costly options though, with Spanish brand Roca offering a version with less fancy options for around $3,800, and Bunnings even sells a washlet with spray nozzles for around $400 - it really just depends on the extent of bells and whistles you are after.
There are indications though that the toilet paper shortage only sped up an already-coming trend - on the show The Block, there were smart toilets in 4 out of the 5 homes in the 2019 season and there has been a steady increase in sales for casinos, hotels and restaurants according to Australian Toto distributors.
So, what does this all mean? Although many of us aren’t quite ready to fork out $9,000+ for a toilet, that doesn’t mean they aren’t the way of the future. From a ‘tornado’ triple flush to a deodorising charcoal filter to remote controlled units, the options are far and wide. And, if they stop another toilet paper shortage of 2020, maybe they are worth it?
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