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Tampon Shortage: Yet Another 'War on Women'

Salena Zito on

BEAVER, Pennsylvania -- If you were looking to purchase tampons here at the Beaver Super Market along Third Street, the city's Main Street business district, the manager says there has been a shortage for a while. When he does get them in, they are gone by midday.

He is not alone. A visit to several larger chain grocery and pharmaceutical stores throughout Western Pennsylvania found almost all of them down to just a handful of boxes of tampons. Smaller local grocery stores often had none. It was slim pickings, even for the generic store brands.

Instacart, the grocery delivery service, said in a statement Monday that the rate its personal shoppers were able to find tampons on store shelves to fill orders dropped to 67%. As a result, women are stocking up when they can find them. Panic-buying has driven sales up over 29% week over week.

Before the tampons went missing, buying them had already become as traumatizing as filling up your gas tank. The cost to have your period this past year has gone through the roof because the costs of all of the workings that go into making a tampon and getting them to a store near you -- think diesel fuel -- have also gone through the roof.

The average cost of a box of tampons is nearly 10% higher than it was at the beginning of the year, according to NielsenIQ.

It is a problem women have been dealing with for months -- and one of three serious inflationary or supply chain issues, the other two being higher gas prices and baby formula shortages, that are making women feel both angry and powerless.

 

As one woman told me, she is the one in the family who has the sticker shock every time she fills up the gas tank because she is the one carting the children off to school activities and now summer day camp and sports practices. Then there's the added indignity of having to waste precious gas visiting three or four different stores, children in tow, to find feminine hygiene products.

In short, no one has been hit harder in the past year in this country than women under age 45, no matter their socioeconomic status. The strain it is placing on them is palpable.

As with the baby formula shortage, people knew this was coming. In early May, Edgewell Personal Care, the company that makes Playtex, warned in its second quarter earnings report that a lack of raw materials, transportation problems, supply chain constraints and manufacturing labor shortages had hurt the supply of tampons.

Any woman can tell you unequivocally that tampons are a necessity. One cannot simply wait it out until the price goes down or until there is more stock. Monthly periods aren't optional.

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