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As a shopaholic, I have so much stuff to buy; too many shops to visit . . . with 21st century technology we are capable to shop until we drop with a click of a mouse from the comfort of our chairs through online shops. Items are delivered directly to our homes without any trouble of lengthy queues and everlasting hours looking for car park spaces!
Although I only have the weekend as a break, I am still an old-fashioned girl who loves to shop in a traditional, customary way! I like to use all my five senses to shop around, I like to touch, wear and try things before I buy them especially when it comes to outfits. I don't mind long hours in the shopping malls looking for a superior bargain (which can be quite a challenge)! One of the shops that I am most obsessed with was Primark. People in England pronounce it as Pry-mark while Scottish, Irish and Welsh people call it Pree-mark (I l heard it when I was living in Dundee few years ago)! Which one shall I choose? For me, I guess Pry-mark is easier on the ear!
Primark store LTD and their slogan . . . (look good and pay less)
Primark is trading as Penneys in the republic of Ireland.
Surprisingly it was founded in 1969 in Ireland (I didn't know that). It has in total over 26,000 employees and 181 stores; 139 in the United Kingdom, 34 in the republic of Ireland and 8 in Spain (Yippee!), of which 2 are humongous megastores in Madrid.
This chain store has grown in the last 10 years to be the most profitable and the best selling clothes store. Without any TV advertisement, radio ads or any form of media hype this company became the teenagers' and youth's favourite shop; browsing the shop every day after school has become a MUST-do chore for some young people . . . I swear I saw a lot of adolescents still with their uniform at the store!
What does Primark retail?
Generally speaking . . . it's clothing. From the moment you lay your eyes on the store, you would mainly think it's aimed for young people and individuals under 30, but when you look intimately you find that it's for all age groups and all tastes. They have baby clothing, as young as a newborn until 3 years; children clothes. Also, there is a women's department (which takes up a big chunk of the store) from simple underwear to formal suit; moving on to men's department: you can look at young and trendy outfits as well as seriously formal ones . . . let's not forget about the footwear, household accessories, and lots, lots more about which I'm going to give details further into this review.
What makes Primark a distinguished and renowned trade mark?
As stated by some TV channels and recent researches, Primark was chosen as the leading store and toped the table for the 'Best Value High Street Fashion' and why is that?
Merely because they targeted young and trendy people with incredibly low prices and reasonably good quality and stylish items; in addition I have to point out their ability to copy and design the recent catwalk fashion so you can have the designer clothes with an affordable price particularly these days when the whole world is suffering from unemployment and the dreadful "credit crunch" and Christmas is round the corner! God knows how this Christmas will look like!
What makes Primark so unique and different from other stores is that they don't have the big sale like the one that most stores have on January and July; they have all year round sales. In spite of their already very low prices they are persistently lowering their prices and selling garments lower than the tag price. The beauty of their sale is that most pieces are still in fashion, some of them still even in the boxes!
Sometimes when they have their clearance; you can find extremely low prices for items . . . some as low as 1p; I can tell you that I bought a sunhat for that price!
Let us talk about the store in detail. . .
Store look and entrance
They all look practically the same with the big white label and blue Primark writing. Two large, spacious entries - and I mean ENTRIES . . . you can go in and out using any of them; of course in front of these doors a security guy (for decoration only!)!
As I said they all look similar except some in big cities (like the store I visited when I was in Manchester is a lot different: it has the same entry but it is spread over three spacious floors: basement, first floor and the second floor, using escalators or the lift).
There is pretty much everything under one roof, the only thing that they need to try to improve in the future is a modest café for shoppers to rest and quench their thirst after long waiting in the queues!
I have to say that their departments are not that breathtaking; they are essentially round stands or tables, shelves and metal rails! Nevertheless, they can do the job!
Their current departments (can vary from one store to another) are:
1 - Accessories One of the largest departments in the store with the latest fashion and very inexpensive prices. Mostly comes under the name Opia and Atmosphere. You really can't get enough from it! You can find belts, scarves, hats, gloves, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, sunglasses and plenty more! I recently developed an addiction to sunglasses; it was so cheap (the price is equivalent to £2 so you can't go wrong)
2 - Hosiery Has a lot to look at. . . from men cotton socks, sport socks, babies socks and children school and sport socks and again a very colourful and beautiful designs goes to the women's socks of course! Prices are very affordable, as for quality some of them are pretty good others straight to the bin after first use!
3 - Lingerie and underwear They pay a lot of attention to this department (I wonder why?); it comes under the brand name Secret Possessions, which is specialised in lingerie and women's nightwear. It designed to suite all tastes from shy personality to bright and cheeky ones . . . lol! I have to say some of their designs are creative and have the wow factor with it. Some of them even come with a blindfold and handcuffs lol, it maybe even matches the look and the quality of some well known brands. They are many underwear choices from simple cotton-sporty bra-brief sets to luxury lacy and sexy underwear with beautiful colours and in resistible designs. It is not only sexy underwear and lingerie; there are nightgowns, nightshirts, cotton and polyester pyjamas, and a lot more for older and mature customers.
4 - Kids' wear divided into three main sections: newborn & toddlers under 3 years; boys' wear; girls' wear. Newborn and toddlers until 3 years. It comes under the label Early Days for baby wear. Boys' wear . . . young boys' wear (Rebel Junior). Older boys' wear (Rebel Active). As for the girls, there is Girl 2 Girl for younger girls' wear. Young Dimension for older girls' wear.
5 - Menswear There is a formal men's wear (Butler and Webb), including ties, formal shirts, men suits( trousers and jackets sold separately so you can mix and match sizes or colours) If you are looking for sporty, casual and trendy men's wear (Cedarwood State and Denim.co)
6 - Footwear Kids and men footwear, sports footwear, formal footwear, women's high heels, boots and flip-flops! They are good quality and reasonably cheap!
7 - Women's wear I like that department, very colourful and a lot to choose from casual wear to formal wear (Atmosphere), jeans, coats, shirts . . . very fashionable and very cheap, prices varied from as little as £1 for a shirt to £25 for a full length coat!
8 - Household This is a nice department, not too much to look at, mostly bathroom accessories, bed sheets and towels and a few bits and bobs. I was once looking for a bath towel . . . I saw one at BHS which I considered as a cheap shop for £18 then I saw a lot bigger and thicker one at Primark for £6! Now that is cheap!
9 - Christmas This is a temporary department only available during Christmas time (watch out for huge reductions after boxing day!): it can be found under the household department.
10 - Sportswear Not too much there: kids sportswear (rebel active) along with men's and women's. Some sport shoes as well.
One entry with two different directions to women's and men's changing rooms. There is always a member of stuff standing outside to give customers a plastic tag with a number. The maximum of 3 pieces are permitted to be taken to the changing room, no underwear or lingerie is allowed to be taken inside.The changing rooms are good sized with long mirror and a chair in every room, the only negative aspect is the curtain . . . it never closes well and it's pretty short!
Staff and Customer Services
The members of staff usually aren't very helpful; they are often rude, impolite and sometimes offensive! They rarely respect customers' wishes and are always too busy to help!
There is a customer services desk in every store for customers' enquiries and items-exchange and returns. Unfortunately, they are as unhelpful and lazy as the rest of the Primark staff. Again, rude manner less staff will be serving you and they become ever ruder when you ask them to return or exchange! Long queues until your turn comes it can take more than an hour!
Advantages There are many advantages and I consider a town or a city lucky to have Primark! Big and spacious stores, some are mega stores with multi floors! Easy to find, lots of stores. Low Prices, reductions and all round year sale. Primark is considered as the king of fashion according to the latest surveys with the latest designs and youthful looks. House hold items. Good quality items with cheerful prices. Special clothes for every occasion.
Disadvantages Messy shops! Clothes everywhere . . . it's like the store's trademark! All in piles! Underwear stamped on by people's feet (which is very unhygienic). Shoes are in the middle of the shop and you have to look through a pile of disorganised shoes to find the matching shoe to make your pair! Broken sunglasses and missing pieces of accessories! I don't know why this Shop Brand in particular is always messy with the poor staff always trying to tidy up and fold clothes. I'm not saying it is in only one or two stores: it's in every single store I have visited, even in Spain! We don't see that in Debenhams or M&S . . . is that just because it's a cheap shop, so that we feel we can just walk all over the clothes? Rude, unhelpful and impolite staff, some of them don't even speak English! Difficult terms and conditions. In the Primark terms and conditions, you can't return or even exchange without your receipt; underwear are non-returnable even if you haven't tried them. You only have 14 days in which to return an item and you have to fill in and sign a form every time you return or exchange an item. In addition you have to talk to the staff and look at his or her face . . . this is enough to put me off; sometimes I have kept the unsuitable item (just to avoid talking to the customer services staff!) Very long queues and very slow cashiers Very crowded shop and people pushing you around and fighting for clothes as if you are in a Sunday car boot sale! Some clothes are cheap looking and colours fade's out after wash!
Stores in Spain. . . Primark is planning to open its first clothing stores in Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands next year but now, they have opened eight stores in Spain!
If you are thinking to travel to Spain this Christmas or during school holidays, don't worry. The Primark phenomenon has reached the Spanish shores! Primark has opened in Spain two mega stores in Madrid; they are much bigger than the one that I saw in Manchester!
If you are interested . . . there are stores in Ballonti shopping centre in Bilbao; two megastores in Madrid: one at the Islazul shopping centre and the other in Parque Corredor; another one on the outskirt of Madrid. Also there are another two stores in the Buenavista shopping centre in Oviedo.
Size wise and staffing Most stores are a lot bigger than the ones in England with huge parking space outside, while inside there are more checkout desks but still have long queues!
Unlike in the UK, most staff are Spanish and they are extremely polite and very helpful (I'm not just saying that because they are Spanish; I'm saying what I have seen). What I have noticed, on the contrary, is that a lot of customers treated the staff unfairly! The staff there are not always treated nicely.
The Mess and disorganisation. . . When the latest store in Madrid was opened a year ago, I went to see and have a little comparison; the store was extra clean and tidy then, but after a few days . . . the mess was there and the clothes were wiping the floor! Maybe bargain-hunters are the same everywhere.
Same goods and clothing? In some way the shops may look identical, but to be honest, the Spanish taste is a lot different from the British taste in many ways, so we have a few items not available in the UK
Spanish Opening Hours Most Mediterranean people love the night life, unlike the UK customers, the Spanish are more active at nights so Primark have made their opening hours suitable for the Spanish demands. From Monday-Saturday they open from 10.00am to 10.00pm; unfortunately for me, the store closes on Sunday!
Gift cards (available only if you live in the republic of Ireland
Following the steps of the major big store, they have introduced gift card few week ago from 3rd of November. Unfortunately, it's only on The republic of Ireland but they are planning to spread it across the UK and maybe Spain. You should have a minimum of €5 to the maximum of €200. Terms and conditions apply.
Quality vs. quantity
There has been a lot of good and bad publicity about Primark: Primark has been voted the least ethical clothing shop (according to the Independent 3 years ago), and on 23 June 2008, the BBC broadcast a Panorama program that showed unethical manufacturing practices in Primark's supply chain. Primark has become UK No 1 favourite clothes store and the king of fashion. They are selling high fashion garments inspired by the catwalk and red carpet with increasingly cheap clothes made in low-wage economies based in India and some Asian counties; most of the workers are young people and children!
I only discovered Primark 5 years ago! Since then I became their No1 shopper! I can say that not all my wardrobe is full of Primark fashion . . . there are some very special occasions that required me to buy a high quality clothes . . . but for everyday wear, Primark does the job for me!
After years of being a loyal customer, I would say that there are some good and bad points about their clothing.
Size wise . . . I'm normally a size 8-10 in dresses and a definite 8 in Jeans but when I buy my jeans from Primark, size 8 is too big - especially on the waist . . . the same goes for the dresses and shirts . . . the size is usually bigger than other shops so I usually need one size smaller than my usual size (good news for some girls!).
Be careful with washing, though. Some of the clothes' colour fades away from the first wash; sometimes the material stretches and looks unsuitable! Furthermore . . . some clothes shrink and become shorter! I don't recommend their wool shirts; once you wash it, you might as well throw it away: some change shape even before you wash it!
Still . . . it's a nice shop and I like to visit the store every day to look for something new (as they always seem to introduce new lines every day).
So there you have it! To summarise everything in this review . . . do I recommend it? Maybe they should put more effort into organising the store and looking after it; have better staff and customer services; try to solve long slow queues and more importantly . . . to be more ethical and stop using teenagers and young children in their factories!
But . . . the answer is yes . . . especially if you have a tight budget, are a university student, or even just looking for the latest fashion without breaking the bank. It's a budget store, with fashion suitable for every taste; good, cheap prices and happy days for students!
Thank you for reading . . . Karimkha. . . December. . .2008