Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

This UK supermarket just became the first to pay tampon tax for its customers


Tesco has become the first retailer in the UK to pay the tampon tax on behalf of its customers, meaning that we’ll soon be able to buy sanitary products without being slapped with an additional charge.

Tampons, pads and liners are currently taxed at 5%, thanks to their status as “luxury” or “non-essential” items under the European Commission. Tesco has now pledged to cut the price of nearly 100 sanitary products by 5% to absorb the cost of VAT.

Michelle McEttrick, Tesco group brand director, said that the company wanted to help women who might find themselves struggling to afford sanitary products.

“For many of our customers, tampons, panty liners and sanitary towels are essential products,” she said.

Read more: Idiot complains about colleague’s period cramps - and HR backs him up

“However, the cost of buying them every month can add up, and for many women and girls it can be a real struggle on top of other essential items,” McEttrick continued. “That’s why we are reducing the cost of these products by 5%.”

tampon tax

Women protesting the tampon tax in London in May 2016.

The price cut will apply to Tesco’s own-label products as well as sanitary products by other brands, The Guardian reports.

The tampon tax has been a target for feminist campaigners for years, with legislation to eliminate the VAT expected to come into effect in April 2018.

Until then, the government promised to spend the revenue from the tax on women’s charities. This was a controversial policy when first announced by former chancellor George Osborne, but became even more so when it emerged that the government intended to donate £250,000 to an anti-abortion group. It’s currently unclear whether this payment ever went ahead (stylist.co.uk has reached out to the charity in question for comment).

Read more: Science reveals the surprising truth about “period brain”

Elsewhere, the high cost of sanitary products continues to pose problems for low-income women and girls. Earlier this year, an investigation by a charity revealed that girls in some areas of the UK were missing school because they couldn’t afford to buy tampons or pads.

In July, meanwhile, the Scottish government announced it would be the first country in the world to offer free sanitary products to women and girls from low-income households.

Watch: Why do we still struggle to talk about periods?

Paula Sherriff, the Labour MP who has spearheaded the campaign against the tampon tax, praised Tesco’s decision to reduce the price of its sanitary products by 5%, and said that she hoped other businesses would follow its lead.

She said that she had been concerned that retailers would exploit the abolition of the tampon tax in 2018, by keeping on-shelf prices the same and taking the extra profit for themselves.

“[That] is why we pushed the supermarkets to sign up to a deal to pass the cut on,” she said.

“But this goes a step even further, by reducing prices right now – and I hope the other big retailers now consider doing the same.”

Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda and Boots have also all pledged to pass on the 5% savings to customers when the tampon tax is abolished in 2018.

Images: iStock, Rex Features



A detailed breakdown of Charli XCX's fiercely feminist ‘Boys’ video


Instagram project reminds us to stay outraged over sexual harassment


“The Boots morning after pill scandal shows the bias of contraception”


20 soothing, beautiful songs guaranteed to help you fall asleep

An expert picks the ultimate classical music playlist

by Sarah Biddlecombe
20 Oct 2017

Puppy dog eyes are a thing and your dog makes them just for you

A study says dogs change their facial expressions when humans are looking

by Amy Swales
20 Oct 2017

Here’s how to buy a house or a flat for the princely sum of £1

It's time to enter the real-estate raffle

by Megan Murray
20 Oct 2017

Oxford University under fire for shocking lack of racial diversity

One MP called the revelations an example of “social apartheid”

by Moya Crockett
20 Oct 2017

This prosecco festival is the best way to start feeling Christmassy

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere

by Susan Devaney
20 Oct 2017

Missing your 16-25 railcard? We have good news for you

Rail bosses have taken pity on cash-strapped millennials

20 Oct 2017

This man’s response to his friend’s period while hiking is everything

“I had NOTHING on me and I was wearing shorts”

by Susan Devaney
20 Oct 2017

Why anxiety makes it harder to follow your intuition

It can have a paralysing effect on decision-making

by Anna Brech
19 Oct 2017

“Why all men must work to stamp out sexual harassment and abuse”

In wake of the Weinstein allegations, one writer argues why men need to be counted

19 Oct 2017

Rage, lust, power and warmth: how it feels to experience ‘red emotions

“I grew up being told my body was terrifying and my voice was unimportant”

by The Stylist web team
19 Oct 2017