| -3.2°C Dublin

Mary Feely: First it was a junior pole dancing kit, now it's a revealing micro mini skirt for nine-year-olds. Has Tesco gone too far this time?

ACTUALLY, I have bought a school uniform skirt for my daughter that's a little shy of 12 inches long.

My daughter is five years old. And she's extremely tiny for her age. So the teeny-weeny navy skirt that she'll wear to junior infants was actually made for three-year-olds.

It's the same length as the skirt Tesco is marketing to nine-year-olds.

Welcome to the grubby world of retailing.

Nothing to do with sexualising our children, you understand. Heavens, no. It's all about offering parents choice, don't you know.

Tesco is a strong believer in parental choice. A few years ago it was offering parents the choice of buying their little girls a pole-dancing kit as a toy.

Whenever parents object to sleazy items being marketed to their children, we hear the same tired defence of the indefensible.

This boils down to insisting that retailers are in no way to blame for the tawdry tat sloshing around their shops.

Instead, the finger is pointed at the likes of me, the horrified shopper.

As Aoife puts it, "retailers don't create demand, they respond to it".

Sorry, I'm not accepting the blame here. I'm pointing the finger right back at the sleaze merchants.

Unless you're raising a little girl, you probably have no idea of the vast onslaught of vulgar rubbish marketed to them in our shops.

There were the pretty knickers I bought one of my girls when she was a toddler. When I got home and opened the packet, I saw a slogan that had been hidden from view: "I love makeup." Charming.

There was the pink top that appealed to my nine-year-old, until I pointed out the words on the front: "Star of the girly bar."

On and on it goes: Lolita beds, tiny thongs and padded bras for flat chests.

All the creepy stuff reeking of sexual innuendo is aimed at little girls. This is the work of a long list of adults. Designers, manufacturers, suppliers and retailers are all eyeing up little girls as a niche market for their off-colour goods.


Shame on them. Retailers are so busy fumbling in the greasy till that they're forgetting something.

Sure, they can chortle at their latest wheeze for upping their profit margin. Make a skirt for a nine-year-old with only enough fabric to cover a three-year-old? Brilliant!

Meanwhile, they're alienating shoppers like me. I've only to hear the names of certain shops to think "yuk!"

Retailers are forgetting to count the cost of that disgust.