Health and beauty retailer Boots has taken the first step to ending “sexist pricing” discrepancies by repricing razors and eye cream.
A petition on Change.org drew attention to Boots’ price differentiations between products for men and the female counterparts, claiming that women were the victims of “sexist pricing”. As an example, Boots eye cream was found to cost £9.99 for women but eye cream for men retailed at £7.29.
In response to the petition, which quickly gathered over 41,000 signatures, Boots issued a response on its website, citing that it was “surprised” and “disappointed” that its standards for equality had not been followed.
“We immediately constructed a review on all Boots own-brand and proprietary ranges to better understand the cited examples,” the statement said. “This review has reassured us that for Boots own brands the two reported examples… are indeed exceptional cases which do not completely meet our principles and we are taking action to correct these prices.”
Boots is not alone in pricing items unfairly for female consumers. An investigation by The Times found that discriminatory pricing was widespread in the industry, with products aimed at women being 37% higher on average. The New York Department for Consumer Affairs found similar practices carried out in America: From a study of 800 virtually identical products, “female” versions were found to cost 7% more.
Manufacturers have also investigated, though retailers have received the brunt of the blame for price disparities. Nevertheless, Boots’ move was welcomed by those campaigning to make prices fairer.
“It is welcome to see Boots change its sexist pricing practices in response to consumer pressure,” Said chief Executive of the Fawcett Society campaigning group, Sam Smethers.
“This is just the start. We are also hearing from manufacturers who are making it clear that it is the retailers who are responsible for this sexist price discrimination. In other words, the claim that the price difference is because products marketed t women cost more to make is simply not holding up. Women are being ripped off every single day and that has to change.”