Waitrose becomes second major UK supermarket to drop price of tampons

Five per cent reduction follows similar announcement by Tesco last month

Benjamin Kentish
Tuesday 08 August 2017 16:58
VAT on sanitary products is unlikely to be scrapped until at least 2018
VAT on sanitary products is unlikely to be scrapped until at least 2018

Waitrose has become the second major UK supermarket to announce it will cut the price of women’s sanitary products and pay the “tampon tax” on behalf of its customers.

The high street giant is following in the footsteps of Tesco, which announced last month that it will drop the price of almost 100 products by 5 per cent.

Waitrose will reduce prices by the same amount. The cut will apply to 97 different products, including named brand and the retailer’s own-brand goods, and be implemented over the course of this week.

Michael Andrews, of the supermarket, said: “By covering the VAT cost and reducing the price by five per cent, we are confident it will make a difference to our customers.”

Campaigners have long called for the 5 per cent VAT levied on sanitary products to be scrapped, saying they should be considered as “essential items” and therefore exempt from tax.

The UK Government has indicated it would like to scrap the “tampon tax” but said it was unable to do so because of EU rules that state the levy must not be lower than 5 per cent.

In 2015, George Osborne, the then Chancellor, announced that revenues from the tampon tax would be given to women’s charities, including domestic violence refuges.

Last year, then Prime Minister David Cameron convinced the European Commission to scrap that rule, but the change will not come into effect until at least 2018.

Like other supermarkets, Waitrose had already committed to passing on savings to customers if, as expected, VAT on sanitary products is scrapped at a later date.

An online petition calling for VAT to be remove from sanitary products has attracted more than 320,000 signatures.

Sainsbury's declined to comment "for competitive reasons" on whether it would be following suit and cutting prices of sanitary products, but said it was "always focused on giving our customers the best choice, quality and value". Boots and Asda did not respond to requests for comment.

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