United Kingdom

Asda refused to sell school uniform to grandmother for five-year-old as it was 'non-essential' item

Asda refused to sell school uniform to a grandmother for a five-year-old who grew out of her old one during lockdown because it was a 'non-essential' item.

Alison Clement, 55, was out shopping for her granddaughter Amber Davies, who needed a new pinafore, cardigan and tights following a growth spurt. 

But Amber's mother and grandmother were turned away after explaining their situation to staff at the supermarket in Llansamlet, Swansea, South Wales. 

The family was able to buy the new uniform at a nearby Tesco the following morning. 

Asda's rejection comes as part of Wales' lockdown rules, which state that only items listed as 'essential' can be sold.

Amber Davies, aged five, pictured wearing her school uniform last September (left) and in her new uniform today (right), which her family was able to buy from Tesco

Alison, who is in a support bubble with Amber's mother, said: '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.

'We went to the customer services desk at Asda and explained the situation.

'The staff were lovely but told us trading standards had been there the previous day and told them that under no circumstances were they allowed to sell non-essential items.' 

She added: 'We went to Tesco customer services and explained the situation. 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.'

The Asda store in Llansamlet, Swansea, pictured above. If a supermarket is caught breaking the rules, they can be issued with compliance notices from the council and may be fined

A list of items classed as 'essential' in Wales

According to the Welsh Government's lockdown rules, areas in shops where multiple product types are purchased may remain open if selling:

-Food and drink;

-Products ancillary to the sale of food and drink, such as kitchen foil, food bags, pots and pans and cutlery;

-Products for washing clothes and for cleaning and maintaining the home including batteries, light bulbs and fuel. This also includes products needed for the upkeep of animals;

-Toiletries, personal care, cosmetic and sanitary products;

-Pharmaceutical products;

-Baby products, including clothes and nappies;

-Newspapers and magazines;

-Stationery and greetings cards;

-Printer ink cartridges;

-Art and craft supplies;

-Pet food and other pet supplies;

-Products for the maintenance of bicycles and cars;

-Services for the repair and maintenance of mobile telecommunications or IT devices.

Source: Welsh Government 

Baby clothes are the only clothing items listed as 'essential' by the Welsh Government.

But a shop can sell someone non-essential items for 'emergency or compassionate' reasons.

It is up to the individual supermarket's discretion to decide whether a non-essential item fits into this category.

If a supermarket is caught breaking the rules, they can be issued with compliance notices from the council and may be fined - a figure not limited on the statutory scales.

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

Shops are also allowed to continue trading through online purchases.

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.

'We also offer click and collect and home delivery through George.com, so customers can shop our full range online.'

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.'

A Welsh Government spokesperson stated: 'All retail businesses can offer click and collect services, which enable people to buy items they need without having to go into shops.

'Supermarkets and other shops selling multiple types of product are also able to sell products that are not on general sale at alert level four if they are needed in an emergency or on compassionate grounds.'

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