Superdrug offers points to offset ‘tampon tax’ amid ‘gender pricing’ concerns
4 February 2016
Superdrug is to pay customers back in loyalty points for the so-called tampon tax in the latest move by retailers to address consumer concerns around gender pricing.
The high street giant will give customers who buy own-brand tampons and sanitary towels between three and 10 loyalty points from February 10, arguing that women should not have to pay a “luxury tax on an essential item”.
Superdrug said each point – equalling a penny to spend in store – will offset what is given to the Treasury in VAT.
Currently, all sanitary products carry a 5% VAT charge.
Gemma Mason, Superdrug’s head of customer experience, said: “The issue of which items are rated for VAT has always been contentious and we believe that if there is one product area which needs urgently addressing, it’s sanitary protection.
“We are hopeful that the rules will change in the future, until then we are delighted to give a little back to our customers.”
Chancellor George Osborne announced in his Autumn statement that £15 million raised each year from VAT on sanitary products is to be used to fund women’s health and support charities.
He said he was “committed” to persuading the EU to allow Britain to scrap VAT on sanitary items, but the money would be put to “good use” in the meantime.
Superdrug said it is also reviewing a “disparity” in pricing between some products following an investigation by The Times newspaper last month that found the cost of clothes, beauty products and toys for females are routinely higher than equivalent items pitched at males.
It said: “Some suppliers charge us more for women’s products and that’s why we’re writing to all our suppliers challenging this on behalf of our customers.”
Earlier this week, Boots changed the cost of razors and eye cream after a Change.org petition raised concerns about the disparity between equivalent men’s and women’s toiletries.
The petition by Stevie Wise revealed that Boots eye cream was £9.99 for women and £7.29 for men, while razors were £2.29 for eight women’s razors and £1.49 for a pack of 10 for men.
The company said it had never operated a pricing system that discriminated against women “so we were surprised and disappointed to see recent examples in the press that did not reflect our own standards”.
Boots said: “Following the review of Boots’ own brand ranges, we are speaking to our suppliers to ask them to conduct similar reviews of their brands, however we cannot comment further on their pricing – that would be a matter for the brands themselves.”
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