Is it true that the uniform makes the man (or woman) working in the retail store?
It appears as though Wal-Mart thinks so. According to a report in The New York Times, Wal-Mart has begun testing a new navy blue polo shirt and khaki pants uniform with associates in about 100 stores.
The decision to roll out the uniform could come as early as next month, once the company has the opportunity to evaluate the responses of employees and customers.
"The look could still change," said John Smiley, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart. "We are still in the process of testing this dress code and evaluating how or whether to roll it out to additional stores."
One change that may occur is in the color of the polo shirt. There is some concern, according to the Times report, that it may be too similar to that worn by Best Buy store workers.
Stan Herman, who has designed uniforms for dozens of corporations over 30 years in fashion, said the new look Wal-Mart is "very classy." By changing its dress code, "Wal-Mart will raise the status of 1.3 million Americans" who work for the company, he added.
The look may be nicer, but it has some drawbacks for Wal-Mart employees who will find themselves buying khakis if they do not already own a pair.
Aubretia Edick, who works at a Wal-Mart in Hudson, N.Y., said, "I am buying these pants for work, and that is it."
Discussion Questions: What is your assessment of the role uniforms play in a retail operation? What will a change in uniform mean to Wal-Mart workers and customers?
How important are uniforms to projecting a store's brand image?