Decades-high inflation is the big economic story of 2022, making it difficult for American consumers to afford essential supplies, including vintage goods.
Menstrual hygiene, which was already facing cost increases due to state taxes (i.e. the so-called “tampon tax”), was also affected by inflation over several foreheads.
According to data from analytics firm NielsenIQ and provided to Yahoo Finance, the average U.S. unit price for tampons has been more than 10% higher year-over-year in every full month so far. while the average unit price for sanitary napkins was more than 10% higher year over year for every month since April.
“It’s been really tough,” Nadya Okamoto, founder and CEO of August, a lifestyle brand that strives to de-stigmatize menstruation while bringing affordable menstrual products to consumers, told Yahoo Finance. “We held on as long as we could until we had to raise prices a few weeks ago. It was really tough because obviously we want our menstrual products to be as accessible as possible.”
Okamoto added that shipping costs were a big factor in the price increase decision.
“We currently ship to thousands of cities across the United States, and the inflation around shipping is insane,” she explained. “We were losing a lot and in order for us to survive as a business we had to raise our prices to a minimum, so that definitely affected us. I think all direct selling businesses have.”
The average cost of menstrual products was $20 per cycle in January 2021, according to the National Organization for Women, before inflation hit decade highs. That was around $200-300 a year and thousands of dollars over a lifetime.
The coronavirus pandemic has also exacerbated the cost problem, as an estimated 5 million women lost their jobs in 2020 and found themselves with limited incomes while global supply chains were disrupted.
“So many women have fallen into poverty,” Dr. Padmini Murthy, head of global health at the American Medical Women’s Association, told Yahoo Finance. “Also, let’s not forget that the supply chain has broken down, leading to shortages in many places.”
Adding another layer of difficulty for low-income households, federal government programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) do not cover not menstrual supplies.
When people don’t have access to menstrual hygiene products, they are forced to use less hygienic alternatives, such as diapers, cloths, old blankets and newspapers. This is a global problem called period poverty and affects approximately 16.9 million people in the United States.
“It’s a major problem,” said Murthy, describing the unequal access to products as “menstrual iniquity”.
A 2019 report from the Nuffield Center for International Health and Development at the University of Leeds found that when a woman has a negative experience of her period, it can often lead to discomfort, distraction and disappointment. absenteeism in the workplace and at school, as well as in general. “psychosocial stress”.
“It affects women all over the world, and even in our own county, the United States, we have a lot of menstrual poverty because women don’t have enough of these supplies,” Murthy said. “And so that kind of really debilitates the way they react the first few days a person has their period. They can’t work, or they’re embarrassed, or the girls can’t go to school, and that’s is very stressful.”
Sandra Salathe is an editor at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @srsalathe
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