The findings from a study, published by Channel Mum and carried out ahead of International Women’s Day (8 March), looked at clothes and toys typically targeted at boys and girls to see the price differences. They found, in some cases, one gender was charged more for what seemed to be the same product.
HuffPost UK contacted the shops in response to the findings and many justified the reasoning for the price differences, including comparisons not being “like for like” products, and the toys not being targeted at a specific gender.
Channel Mum found a blue and green striped jacket, from George at Asda costs £8-£9 for 1-6-year-olds. A similar jacket in pink rises to £10-£12 in the same store. A pair of blue inline roller skates in Argos costing £7.99, while the pink pair rises to £10.99.
Channel Mum found girls aren’t always paying more, as a pair of white skinny jeans from River Island are priced at £20 for boys but £16 for girls. However, according to the study, on average, girls’ items were priced 21% higher than the equivalent items for boys, but the items where boys were charged more averaged just 13.5% more expensive.
They also found a pack of boy’s briefs in Marks and Spencer would set parents back £4-£7, while the same number of girl’s briefs will amount to £6-£8. However the retailer told HuffPost UK this did not compare “like for like” products, as the study compared plain vs. patterned underwear. When comparing boys’ vs. girls’ patterned underwear and boys’ vs. girls’ plain underwear, the prices came out the same.
A spokesperson for Argos explained to HuffPost UK they feel neither product (rollerblades) is gender specific. They argued it is not described or marketed in this way and the only difference is the colour. They said both products were the same and the price that has been reported is a discounted price for clearance (both were previously £24.99, but the reduced price is different).
Asda also dismissed claims it was pricing based on gender, and a spokesperson said: “The price of our clothing is influenced by many factors, but never by gender.”
But it seems parents do believe there is a gender difference in pricing when it comes to kids clothes and toys. Channel Mum polled 1,156 parents, and two thirds said they have noticed a kids ‘gender pay gap’ with stores charging more for almost identical items depending on whether it is targeted at girls or boys. T-shirts and tops (37%), nightwear (21%) and underwear (17%) are also among the items of clothing parents believe are priced higher for girls.
A further 56% believe retailers make it difficult to compare prices by dividing items into ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ sections, with 37% saying they would back moves to make all kids’ items ‘gender-neutral’.
Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum.com, said: “Treating baby girls as a commodity to be exploited aged just 12 months old is terrible. The so-called ‘pink tax’ is bad enough for adult women but a pink tax for tots is just plain wrong. There’s simply no justification for charging more based on gender. An item which is the same or similar should have the same or a similar price tag, regardless of which gender wears or uses it.
“Luckily parents are becoming more and more aware of the practise which should mean more firms becoming reluctant to do it.”
Example of gender price differences:
Boys - Shower Resistant Striped Hooded Jacket (1-6 years) - £8-£9
Girls - Cat and Dog Print Hooded Mac (1-6years) - £10-£12
Price difference: £2-3
Boys - Slogan Epic Vibes T-Shirt (4-13yrs) - £3.50 to £4.50
Girls - Slogan T-Shirt (4-13yrs) - £4 to £5
Price difference: 50p
Boys - Zinc Inline Roller Skates in Blue - 13-3 - Blue - £7.99
Girls - Zinc Inline Roller Skates - Pink - 13-3 - £10.99
Price difference: £3
In some instances, boys’ items were more expensive.
Boys - White ripped skinny jeans (ages 5 - 12) - £20
Girls - White ripped skinny jeans (ages 5 - 12) - £16
Price difference: £4.
HuffPost UK has contacted all retailers mentioned for further comment.
Have you noticed price differences in gendered products? Let us know by dropping an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.