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”


Meteorologist’s epic response to troll who called her “disgusting”

“Enough is enough.”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
18 Aug 2017

Acts of love, humanity and solidarity following the Barcelona attack

In the darkness, there is light.

by Moya Crockett
18 Aug 2017

How you can help those caught up in the Barcelona attack

The ways you can support the victims, survivors and investigation

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017

People are furious about Trump’s response to the Barcelona attack

The world is sick of his double-standard on terrorism

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017

Ryan Phillipe on how he tackles depression

“I’m thinking about how to focus and steady myself”

by Susan Devaney
17 Aug 2017

Are black girls being forced to grow up too fast?

A study has shown that black girls as young as five are seen as more adult than their white peers

by Kemi Alemoru
17 Aug 2017

Teen receives sickening messages after asking for career advice

This businessman's response was shocking

by Sarah Biddlecombe
17 Aug 2017

We want everything from this new high-street Disney collaboration

Seriously magical

by Megan Murray
17 Aug 2017

JK Rowling's video game confession has sparked a Twitter frenzy

The internet is LOVING it

by Megan Murray
17 Aug 2017

New law forces women in Texas to buy “rape insurance” for abortions

“I am proud to sign the legislation,” Governor Greg Abbott said

by Sarah Biddlecombe
17 Aug 2017