Why I love to hate Primark

Rebecca Rutt's picture

Walking along Oxford Street I begin to mentally prepare myself for what inevitably is going to be a traumatic shopping experience. The gleaming blue sign welcomes in shoppers keen for a bargain but nightmares of my last shopping trip to Primark (Primarni or Primarche) are still fresh.

I love getting a good deal, be it from charity shops, vintage markets or jumble sales. However, I’m of the belief that some of their finest ‘bargains’ are a little too good to be true. You might bag an amazing new-season dress, which looks just like it should be from Topshop with a price label only a tenth of the cost, but is it really such a good deal when after two washes it begins to fall apart?

The prices are cheap, but this means the quality can generally be quite bad. I’ve bought countless items from there and while it kept me well supplied throughout my university days, I wouldn’t say it’s great for buying long-lasting staples. You’ll probably just have to re-buy them a month on and end up spending more than you originally hoped.

It’s completely hit or miss. I’ve bought dresses that have lasted years and similarly ones that have shrunk after a few washes into unwearable miniature versions of their former selves.

My best advice is to seek out a quiet and hopefully unknown store and at all costs avoid major city centre branches at the weekend or in lunch hours. When it gets busy the clothes go astray, it’s impossible to find the right size, the temperature rises and the changing rooms are a no-go unless you’ve got 30 minutes to spare queuing.

Be prepared to hunt and always check the labels. If you can bear it, try before you buy, as many of their clothes don’t match other high street sizes, and remember you pay for what you get. It’s perfect for cheap, seasonal bargains. But if you want something sturdy keep in mind to buy cheap is to buy twice.

The larger stores should really only be reserved for hard-core shoppers. The weekend queues can reach into the hundreds and since the shop floor resembles a jumble sale, it becomes impossible to find items.

Despite my promises of abandoning the shop and leaving, which I have done on many occasions, something always pulls me back. Like me, people across the country are still tempted and their profits continue to rise. This summer the company has pulled in shoppers with its £12 floral dresses, leading to like-for-like sales that are estimated to be very close, if not higher, than its rivals.

It can be a hot, stressful, and sometimes scary (there are a lot of aggressive bargain hunters around). But if you’re prepared to fight through the crowds you can usually guarantee you’ll leave with a cheap seasonal outfit in your hand - that’s if you can shove your way back out on to the street.




Your Comments

Elements of this may have a ring of truth but the firm supplies an ever growing demand in this throw away society. I have had a £3 hoody fleece for over a year and worn it well and stiil it is tidy and it just gets screwed up in my bag and when needed the creases just fall out and it looks great

One thing that I would add, is to take some preventitive action (caused by wear n tear) before first wear. I find that Primarni tends to fall apart at the seams (there never was a context where this phrase was sooooooo apt). So, I always run an item through the sewing machine before first use. I simply resew a 5-10cm stitch across cuffs and other vulnerable seams, to reinforce them.

I'm guilty of the 'I'm never going back there' before returning two hours later.

Trying to return anything to them is a nightmare. I bought a nice-ish pair of ballet pumps from Primark back at the end of April. They cost £8, which isn't bargain-bucket cheap, but isn't too expensive either. I wasn't planning on keeping them longer than six months. A month later, after maybe three or four days wear, the buckle detail at the front broke and I was left with one gold chain flapping about on my shoe. Rendering them unwearable.

I took them back maybe 35 days later, with the receipt, and showed the lack of wear at the bottom of the shoe. Even after speaking to the manager and arguing with a shop assistant, the only answer I got was 'well, what did you expect for £8'? I didn't get my money back, and it was past 28 days. What was I expecting? For them to last longer than four days, as a start.

I resigned myself to it, and asked the shop assistant if she could throw the broken shoes away. 'Sorry love,' she said 'you'll have to do that outside.' Needless to say, I'm never buying shoes from them again.

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