A mum was barred from buying school uniform in an Asda store because it was deemed a "non-essential" item.

Alison Clement, 55, visited the store with her daughter to buy some new clothes for her five-year-old granddaughter Amber Davies who had grown out of her previous uniform.

But when Alison and her daughter, who are in a support bubble, explained their situation to staff at the branch in Llansamlet, Swansea, on Friday, they were turned away.

However, they were able to buy Amber some new uniform at the Tesco branch in Llansamlet the following morning.

But Alison said she doesn't blame supermarket staff for refusing "essential" uniform because they are in "an impossible situation".

Amber Davies need some new school uniform
Amber Davies need some new school uniform

She told Wales Online : "Amber turned five last week and started back at school. She is very tall for her age and her last uniform was age seven to eight and did not fit her anymore.

"I don't blame the staff at all. They've been put in an impossible situation and have to make the call about what is and isn't essential
and then have to take the brunt."

Ms Clement said the family did not like going out unnecessarily in the pandemic, but that the refusal meant they they were left with no choice but to try another store.

"We went to Tesco customer services and explained the situation," she said.

The family managed to buy the new items in a local Tesco
The family managed to buy the new items in a local Tesco

"The staff member we spoke to called a colleague who wrote down a list of what we needed, then brought the items to us so we could have a look.

"We were told by them that we weren't the first ones going there for the same reason."

Rules drawn up by the Welsh Government means baby clothes are the only clothing items that are deemed "essential" but a shop can use their discretion to sell non-essential items for "emergency or compassionate" reasons.

Ms Clement said: "It's not fair on the staff in supermarkets - it's a big responsibility on them and they don't want to break the rules.

The Asda store turned the family away (stock image)
The Asda store turned the family away (stock image)

"They've taken enough grief through this pandemic and they are the ones who have kept us all going.

"We need some different or clearer guidelines. How can we buy tobacco but not essential clothes for our children?

"As adults we can make do without buying clothes for a long time, but children can't - they're changing and growing all the time."

According to the Welsh Government, supermarkets are fine to sell items such as school uniform via a click and collect service and online.

Stores in Wales are not allowed to sell non-essential items (stock image)
Stores in Wales are not allowed to sell non-essential items (stock image)

However, Ms Clement said this isn't always an easy option for families needing clothes for children experiencing growth spurts.

She said: "It was Amber's birthday last week and we ordered some clothes for her, but most of them had to be sent back. You can order the same size from two different shops and they will be completely different sizes by the time you get them.

"And with school uniform you need to make sure it fits properly. You can buy multiple sizes to try on and see which fits best, but people don't always have the money to be able to order a lot in one go just to be sent back later - my daughter has been on furlough, people are struggling."

A spokesman from Asda said: "Throughout the pandemic we have followed the government guidance to ensure our stores are safe. That means that we are currently not permitted to sell school clothing in our store in Swansea.

"However we do recognise that some customers may need to purchase non-essential items on emergency and compassionate grounds – in these cases we will allow customers to purchase these items."

A spokesman from Tesco said: “School uniform is classed as non-essential by Welsh Government and these items are currently cordoned off at our Llansamlet Extra store.

"However, the current rules allow us to sell these items if there are emergency or compassionate grounds for doing so. Once the customer explained to our store colleagues that she needed to purchase the items on that basis we were very happy to help her.”