From The Economist:
Sex doesn’t sell: An old industry is in deep recession
. . . In part, this reflects the sluggish economy. Overall consumer spending at the end of 2012 was almost 4% lower than its 2007 peak. And Vivienne, an independent escort in the south who works part-time to supplement her income as a photographer, says paying for sex is a luxury: “Food is more important; the mortgage is more important; petrol is more important.” She is offering discounts out of desperation, reckoning it is better to reduce prices by £20 ($30) than to have no customers at all.
The days of being able to make a full-time living out of prostitution are long gone, reckons Vivienne, at least in larger towns and cities. “It’s stupidly competitive right now,” she laments. More people are entering prostitution, agrees Cari Mitchell of the English Collective of Prostitutes. Some working women in Westminster say they have halved their prices because the market has become so saturated. In London, and increasingly elsewhere, immigrants provide strong competition. But Sophie, an expensive escort in Edinburgh, says she is seeing an influx of newbies including students and the recently laid-off, many of them offering more for less.
Parts of the sex trade are comparatively hale. At the top end of the market, Marie, another escort in Scotland, says custom has not dried up. Girls increasingly report requests for discounts, she says. But those who lower their prices sometimes swiftly raise them again, deterred by the kind of customer who is attracted to bargains.