'Pink Tax': does it cost more to be a woman?

Monday 6th June, 2016

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Why does a woman’s shopping bag cost more than a man's? Or why is a man’s deodorant 30p cheaper than a woman’s? Sarah Mbengue turns consumer watchdog and examines the evidence.

Following a widely shared petition, Prime Minister David Cameron announced to the House of Commons in March that Britain would soon be abolishing taxes on essential feminine hygiene products: the so-called ‘tampon tax’.

But this is just one small step in trying to combat the significant price difference between male and female everyday items.

According to an investigation by The Times in January, British women are charged an average of 37% more than their male colleagues for the same products: the ‘pink tax’ on female consumers.

But are the zero tax rates on essential products like tampons really going to change the price gap between blue and pink products? Where are we in terms of gender price gap? Is it really cheaper to be a man?

(Click to magnify) Image: Sarah Mbengue

It only took a brief walk around London to come to that unavoidable conclusion. After a recce around Boots and Tesco, a chat with a dry-cleaner's in Holloway and an average of eight different hairstylists based in Tufnell park, I compared the prices of basically identical services and products, where the only difference was the colour of the packaging.

What did I discover? That it costs an average of £35 more each month to be a woman.

This gender price gap is also an issue in children’s clothing. On average, a parka costs £15 for a boy, but the exact same parka in pink will cost £24.99. Several brands and companies have been criticised for this type of sexist pricing.

Boots has pledged to stop this policy after an online petition.