Price change follows investigation that found women were paying more in shops for the same products
Tesco has reduced the price of womens standard razors to match that of mens in the latest victory in the battle to eliminate gender discrimination in high street products.
A newspaper investigation at the start of last year showed that women were paying an average of 37% more for gender-targeted items, ranging from toys to beauty products. Razors were found to be among the more marked-up products, with women often paying a premium just because the product was a different colour pink.
Tesco was charging 1 for a pack of five womens twin-blade razors, twice the price of the mens equivalent. The Labour backbencher Paula Sherriff, who recently persuaded Boots to trial donation boxes where customers could leave sanitary products for distribution to food banks, put pressure on Tesco to reduce womens disposable razor prices.
In a letter to Sherriff, which has been passed to the Guardian, Tescos commercial director for packaged products, Kari Daniels, said the supermarket had reviewed its products to make sure it was not guilty of gender-differentiated pricing following a parliamentary debate.
Daniels said the disparity in price was not the result of gender bias, but added: In the instance of our twin-blade razors, the difference is driven by the fact that male razors are produced and sold in significantly higher volumes, which reduces the price we pay for them.
However, following an internal review and discussions with our suppliers, we have acted on concerns about the difference in price of our female and male disposable twin-blade razors, in line with our commitment to ensure consistently low, simple and affordable pricing.
We have aligned the prices of these products so that the male and female razors are the same price per unit. We have done this by reducing the cost of the womens razors and keeping the cost of the mens razors the same.
Both sets of razors now cost 10p per unit. Daniels also insisted that Tesco had changed its pricing strategy so it was moving away from large, short-term promotions to focus on prices that are consistently low and affordable, and simpler to understand.
Sherriffs most significant parliamentary triumph since entering the House of Commons last year was forcing the government to confront the EU over the 5% VAT it makes countries impose on sanitary products. Ministers climbed down over the issue after Sherriff secured significant Eurosceptic Conservative support to demand that VAT be scrapped as part of any EU membership renegotiation package before the referendum on 23 June 2016.
The former NHS worker, who also convinced WH Smith to reduce the cost of products in hospital shops to be in line with its high street prices, said: This is a welcome step from Tesco, and I hope other companies will identify and correct similar disparities.
The government has refused to act on gender pricing so we have had to take a lead. Id encourage anyone who sees examples to get in touch and Ill take it up.
Although gender-based pricing became a major issue in 2016, there had been concerns about the practice for several years. A 2012 study by Development Economics for insurer Aviva found that women were paying 200 extra a year for what were basically the same consumer goods and services.