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Walmart may loosen employee dress code

Walmart is considering loosening the dress code that its 1.4 million U.S. employees are required to follow as it tries to attract and retain its staff.

Under a pilot for the new policy, workers at 100 of the retail giant's stores are being allowed to wear blue jean, provided they are solid blue, and may wear a solid-color shirt of their choosing, a Walmart spokesman said. Walmart's current dress code only permits khaki-colored or black denim pants and solid blue or white shirts.

"We are always testing new ideas and concepts in a small number of our stores," the spokesman said. "Some of these tests are expanded while others are retired. We won't know next steps on this test until we've had a chance to learn what works and what could work better."

Walmart raises minimum age for gun sales to 21

According to Bloomberg, Walmart also revised its dress code in 2015 when it exempted workers with more physically demanding jobs, such as cart pushers, from wearing collared shirts and let them wear t-shirts. Under a separate policy for all of its stores, workers hired after April 14 may not have visible facial tattoos, the news service reports.

A 2017 survey by the Society for Human Resources Management found that 44 percent of employers allowed workers to dress casually every day, up from previous years. About 27 percent of businesses allow more casual attire depending on the season.

Improving rep

Walmart, which has roughly 5,000 stores nationwide and which is the largest private-sector employer in the U.S., has recently moved to adopt more employee-friendly policies. Long criticized for its labor policies, the company has more recently taken steps to enhance its reputation as a place to work.

The company in January announced that it was raising its starting wage to $11 an hour, from $9, and providing eligible employees with bonuses of as much as $1,000. It also has spoken out against anti-gay laws, leading the LGBT magazine The Advocate to remark on Walmart's "transformation into an LGBT ally." 

In a nod to public anger following the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school, the retailer in February raised the minimum age to buy guns and ammunition to 21.

Such moves seem to be helping shift consumer perceptions of Walmart. A majority of shoppers who identify as Democrats now say they would consider shopping at the company, a shift from just five years ago when roughly four of 10 said they would buy from the store, according to YouGov BrandIndex, a service that tracks brand perception.