No caps, no trainers… and no pyjamas.

Thought dress codes were usually the reserve of bars and nightclubs? Think again. One supermarket had to impose a ban this week on customers shopping in the pyjamas. That’s right, their pyjamas.

In order to ‘prevent offence or embarrassment to others’, a Tesco store in St Mellons, Cardiff, South Wales has had to impose a dress code after customers complained of people turning up in nightwear ‘or similarly underdressed’ (I dread to think).

New signs have been put up, with the header ‘Tesco Dress Code Policy’ reading: “To avoid causing offence or embarrassment to others, we ask that our customers are appropriately dressed when visiting our store (footwear must be worn at all times and no nightwear is permitted).”

There must have been a few sniggers amongst the Tesco PR team when preparing for this comment: “We’re not a nightclub with a strict dress code, and jeans and trainers are of course more than welcome. We do, however, request that customers do not shop in their PJs or nightgowns. This is in response to other customers. We would never dictate to people. But we have listened to customer feedback that it makes them uncomfortable and embarrassed.”

A 24 year old was apparently one of the first customers escorted from the store under the new dress code rules. She told the Times newspaper: “If you’re allowed to wear jogging bottoms, why aren’t you allowed to wear pyjamas in there, that’s what I don’t understand. It is ridiculous and stupid. I go in other shops in my pyjamas and they don’t say anything. They should be happy because you’re going to spend all that money.”

I expect many people will see this as an overreaction on Tesco’s part but I respect them for it.

I was recently in a well known coffee shop in London, sitting quietly and minding my own business, when a drunk customer (yes, in the middle of the day) came in and sat down on the table next to mine. Despite the guy behaving in a loud and offensive manner, and making everyone in there feel uncomfortable, the staff did nothing about it. This is of course a slightly different scenario but it still comes down to one thing – every shop or store surely has a duty to its customers to ensure they have a safe and comfortable shopping experience with them.

Good on Tesco for responding swiftly to their customer feedback and making a stand against this kind of behaviour.  If it’s affecting their customers they have a duty to act.

Gemma Carey – www.bluewoodtraining.com – January 2010

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