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Tesco accused of ‘gender apartheid’ in social media spat

Tesco is to introduce new safety warning stickers on its trolleys after a social media storm saw it accused of “gender apartheid”.

The warnings feature drawings of a woman and a child demonstrating how to allow children to ride in trolleys safely. A Manchester woman took to social media complaining the warnings were sexist because they featured a woman and child, enhancing social stereotypes that it was a woman’s role to do the shopping.

Tesco trolley warnings

Matt O’Connor, from an organisation called Fathers4Justice, went even further, saying: “Tesco needs to stop this gender apartheid”.

Using a hashtag ‘everyday sexism’, the original complainant Tweeted “Tesco, is it only women who do the food shopping and look after the kids?”

Samantha Rennie, executive director at equality group the Rosa UK Fund for Women and Girls, told the Manchester Evening News: “It… plays a role in reinforcing stereotypical ideas of the woman being responsible for the weekly food shop.”

However, newspaper readers took a saner perspective on the issue. An online survey of readers showed 90 per cent did not believe the trolley warnings were sexist, (although it did not disclose the number of votes). 

One local Manchester man Tweeted that the complaint showed “The world’s gone mad”.

The [Manchester] woman who complained needs to get a life. It may be a man dressed as a woman.”

Tesco says it has ordered new warning signs featuring gender neutral characters which will be placed on the next 20,000 new trolleys to be put into service across the UK.

Discount brand mooted

Meanwhile, Tesco has not commented on reports it is planning a bare-essentials style grocery chain to tackle German rivals Aldi and Lidl head on.

The Sunday Times newspaper has reported that Tesco will launch a separate brand where goods are price matched to Aldi and Lidl’s offer, to try to win back customers lost to the German brands over the last decade.

The stores would likely stock around 3000 SKUs and the brand and store format would be designed to stand apart from Tesco so as not to cannibalise its main brand’s sales. A typical Tesco supermarket stocks up to 30,000 items.

The discounters are continuing to eat into the market share of Britain’s so-called ‘big four’ chains. In the latest quarterly data published by Retail Gazette, Tesco’s sales rose 2.6 per cent while Aldi and Lidl reported 16.2 and 16.3 per cent increase respectively.

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