A new study of gender pricing disparities from New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs, called “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer,” found that women pay 7 percent more on average for a range of similar products, including apparel.
The study, a comparison of nearly 800 products with clear male and female versions from more than 90 brands sold online and in two dozen New York City stores, also found that across the entire sample women’s products were priced higher 42 percent of the time.
These findings suggest that, over the course of a woman’s life, she pays thousands of dollars more than a man to purchase similar products. Although there may be legitimate drivers behind some portion of the price discrepancies — such as ingredients, textiles and import tariffs — these higher prices are mostly unavoidable to shoppers, the study concluded.
Julie Menin, commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, said, “In New York City, businesses can set their own prices, but it is DCA’s job to make sure that a consumer knows what that price is. That is why we have conducted this study, to educate consumers about the disparities so they can make the most educated shopping choices. We also encourage all New Yorkers to join us in calling on retailers to change their pricing practices.”
Evaluated products were selected from multiple industries in order to mirror the average consumer life cycle, from children’s products to products for seniors. In addition to increasing consumer awareness about the issue of gender pricing, the city sent letters to the major retailers of the products reviewed, encouraging them to reevaluate their gender pricing practices.
The goal of the study was to estimate the extent and frequency of the price differences that male and female shoppers face when buying the same types of items from five industries: toys and children’s accessories, children’s clothing, adult clothing, personal-care items and home health-care products for seniors. DCA compared nearly 800 products across 35 different product categories, such as bikes and scooters, onesies, jeans, razors and canes. The products selected had similar male and female versions and were the closest in branding, ingredients, appearance, textile and construction.
“DCA’s comprehensive study makes an important contribution to the steady body of evidence showing that retail goods cost more simply because they are marketed to woman,” said Michael Cone, New York Office managing partner of FisherBroyles LLP, a trade law expert and consultant on the report. “The problem arises from private decisions by manufacturers, retailers and advertisers, and also from gender-based import tariffs imposed by the U.S. government. The solution lies with informed retail customers who refuse to buy into the discrimination, and this is why the DCA’s study and efforts to educate the public are so important.”
Across the five industries analyzed, women were charged 7 percent more for toys and children’s accessories, 4 percent more for children’s clothing, 8 percent more for adult clothing, 13 percent more for personal-care items and 8 percent more for home health-care products. In all but five of the 35 product categories analyzed, products for female consumers were priced higher than those for male consumers.