Boots the Chemist has announced that it will be changing the prices of two of its products following a petition over its "sexist" pricing that attracted over 40,000 signatures.
In a statement the high street retailer said it had looked at its prices following "recent examples in the press" that did not reflect its "pricing principles".
The statement went on:
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 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 have taken action to correct these with immediate effect.
A Boots spokesperson added that the company has "never operated a pricing system that discriminates against women."
They said: "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."
And they 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."
The author of the change.org petition, Stevie Wise, had pointed out that a men's twin blade disposable 10 pack of razors was, at £1.49, cheaper than a women's 8 pack which was priced at £2.29. She had also flagged that men's botanics anti-ageing eye roll-on was, at £7.29, over £2 cheaper than the £9.99 female equivalent.
Wise referred in her petition to a recent study by The Times that analysed hundreds of products marketed at men and women. The study concluded: "Across all equivalent products with different prices, the products marketed at women were 37 per cent pricier on average."
Among a number of examples, it noted that "Levi's 501 jeans for women are on average 46 per cent more expensive than the men's version, even if they have the same waist and leg length", and that "Amazon sells a Playmobil pirates ship for £12.59. The equivalent 'fairy queen' ship costs £14.99. Neither Amazon or Playmobil would explain the gap."
Wise wrote: "Boots is one of the leading high street retailers. They often sell own-brand products at much higher prices to women when there are only minor differences in the product. The fact that these are own-brand products is what makes it really unfair – they don't have to overcharge you, they simply choose to."
It's the second time in recent weeks Boots has attracted criticism over possible sexism. In January, there were a number of complaints over a diet pill it stocks that has ads featuring young women some critics said looked like "teenagers". The pill's manufacturers said they were "age appropriate".
Wise told BuzzFeed News: "This is a great start, but our campaign will continue until Boots and other retailers axe the unjustifiable price gaps between products for men and women."
Stevie Wise is a woman. An earlier version of this post used male pronouns to describe her.
Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alan White at email@example.com.
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