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Asda – why are you still using ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signs?

In the three years that Let Toys Be Toys has been up and running we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from retailers. Fourteen major UK retailers, including Tesco and Sainsbury’s, have engaged positively with us and have agreed to remove ‘Girl’ and ‘Boy’ signs from toy aisles. Asda however, has yet to respond.

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We originally wrote to Asda in 2013 to tell them how pleased we were that they were planning to remove gender categories from their website, and asking them to take down ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ signs in store.

But while the Asda website sorts toys by age, brand and type, many Asda stores continue to use boy/girl signs above toy shelves – a sexist practice that most UK retailers have now dropped. Asda also stock a range of gendered products, (such as ‘boys r best’ childrens shower gel or Igloo Books’ ‘Stories for Girls’), use boy/girl shelf labels, and use stereotypical images in their marketing materials.

Asda claims on its corporate website to “strive to work in the most responsible way possible” but we don’t think that using signage that tells boys and girls what they’re meant to play with is responsible – here’s why gendered marketing is harmful.

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A few weeks ago we wrote to Asda again to highlight our concerns and ask for a meeting.

Dear Mr Clarke

Let Toys Be Toys is a grassroots campaign asking the toy industry to stop marketing some toys only for boys, and some only for girls. We believe that children develop best when they have access to a range of toys, books and interests.

Over the last few years we have worked closely with retailers across the UK. We have seen a 60% reduction in stores and 46% reduction online of toys being marketed specifically to boys or girls. We have worked with some of the biggest names in retail including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, Toys R Us and TK Maxx.

Asda is frequently flagged up to us as an area of concern in relation to gender equality. We are aware how seriously this is taken at Asda, and it is therefore surprising to see you named as one of the few retailers to still promote toys in this way.

We have included an attachment which outlines:IMG_3763 (2)
• Areas of concern which customers have raised with us
• An explanation of why we think it is important
• Examples of best practice

We are very keen to meet with you to discuss this further and you can contact us on this e-mail address (lettoysbetoys@gmail.com).

We will be posting this letter to our website and social media in a fortnight’s time.

Many thanks
Let Toys Be Toys

If you’d like to raise this issue with Asda too, you can:

Post to Asda’s facebook page