UK high-street retailer Boots has announced plans to drop prices on several products following a row over 'sexist' charges that saw women pay more than men for the same goods. The company's price drop comes in response to a petition on Change.org entitled Boots – Review The Sexist Pricing Of Everyday Products, which has garnered more than 42,000 signatures.
Started by Stevie Wise from London, the petition read: "Boots CEO Simon Roberts: Review your sexist pricing! "£9.99 for eye cream for women, but £7.29 for men. £2.29 for eight women's razors, £1.49 for a pack of 10 for men. A visit to any Boots store and it's plain as day on the British high street that women are being ripped off.
"So-called 'women's products' are more expensive – from razors to moisturising creams. Women already buy things that men don't have to buy, like make-up, hair products and tampons which are taxed as luxuries, plus we earn less than men on average across our lifetimes. Now to top it all off, research has proven what any woman who has ever been inside a hair salon already knew: women pay more than men for the same stuff."
The company admitted that two of its own-brand products – disposable razors and Botanics eye roll ons – were priced differently for men and women, and added that it was taking action to change this. A spokesperson for Boots UK said in a statement: "At Boots UK, we have never operated a pricing system that discriminates against women so we were surprised and disappointed to see recent examples in the press that did not reflect our own standards.
"We are committed to offering all of our customers great value and quality, we have clear pricing principles that ensure all of our products are priced individually based on a range of factors including formulation, ingredients, and market comparison.
"We immediately conducted a review on all Boots own brand and proprietary ranges to better understand the cited examples. This review has reassured us that for Boots own-brands the two reported examples, Boots disposable razors and Botanics eye roll on, are indeed exceptional cases which do not completely meet our principles and we are taking action to correct these prices."
The company also confirmed it would ask the suppliers it used to do a similar audit of their products, but did not suggest it would stop stocking ranges that priced products based on which gender they were aimed at. The spokesperson added: "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."
Boots' changes in pricing come as MPs debated gender pricing in London's Westminster Hall on 2 February after the issue was raised by Labour MP for Dewsbury Paula Sherriff.