A New York pharmacy – Thompson Chemists – is using a provocative campaign to raise awareness about the gender price gap. A sign on the storefront announces that "All male customers are subject to a 7% Man Tax", alongside another one reading “All female customers shop tax free".
Jolie Alony, the pharmacy’s owner, explains:
"We want to bring awareness on how it feels to be a woman, so the men actually get to feel it."
What Alony is referring to is a study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), that found that “on average […] women’s products cost 7 percent more than similar products for men. Specifically:
- 7 percent more for toys and accessories;
- 4 percent more for children’s clothing;
- 8 percent more for adult clothing;
- 13 percent more for personal care products;
- 8 percent more for senior/home health care products.”
The following examples highlighted in the DCA report, will certainly make consumers feel the unfairness.
The DCA also notes that in 1994, the State of California studied the issue of gender-based pricing of services and estimated that women effectively paid an annual “gender tax” of approximately $1,351 for the same services as men.
Price discrimination for goods is legal (unlike one for services), so there is no problem with Alony’s policy. Despite the provocative wording, the female customers are not spared the tax literary, but rather receive a 7% discount, while male customers pay the regular price. The pharmacy is absorbing the difference as it is still required to report all sales and pay the sales tax in full.
DCA encourages consumers to join DCA’s social media campaign to address this issue by tweeting examples of gender pricing and fair pricing with #genderpricing.