If there’s one shop that completely divides opinion, it’s Primark. Some love it for its budget-friendly prices and ability to recreate catwalk trends at lightning speed, and others think it’s unethical and cheap (not in the good way), offering poorly-made items to the masses.
I sit somewhere in the middle. The prices make it easy for someone like me to indulge in flash-in-the-pan trends and if you look hard enough, you can find good quality items that will last and last. On the other hand, the ethical issue concerns and confuses me (as we discussed in this post, although this video created by Primark in response to a Panorama programme about the brand’s use of underage workers is very interesting viewing) and I hate wearing what everyone else is wearing.
So, over the years I’ve honed my Primark shopping skills. I can be in and out in 20 minutes, I know the items to avoid (socks. They fall down constantly) and those impulse buys at the till don’t fool me. Here’s my guide to shopping in Primark – use it wisely and you’ll soon by yelling ‘Primark! Two quid!’ whenever someone compliments your outfit. Smug smile optional.
- Go mid-week or first thing in the morning, unless you enjoy being rammed by pushchairs and elbowed out of the way by teenagers in too much eyeliner. It’s quieter, the queues are shorter and most of the clothes are still on their hangers.
- Take a basket and sling it over your shoulder so you retain full use of your limbs. You’ll need these for rummaging and elbowing.
- Look at the label that’s stitched into the clothing and nothing else. Primark items are often tagged incorrectly and everyone knows those hangers lie through their teeth.
- Ignore anything that’s attached to your garment. Primark belts are plastic and often ugly, but they can be removed.
- Don’t let a polyester slip put you off – it can be snipped out at home and replaced with something silky.
- Check for uneven stitching and bunching around seams – these things are harder to fix and probably not worth your time, but look at a few versions before you give up. Some are better quality than others.
- See people crowding around a display? Don’t bother. Some Primark pieces are hugely popular and will be worn by at least five other people at that thing you’re going to.
- Everything sold in Primark comes with at least one spare button, even if it has no buttons to start with. Keep these – they’re great for crafting, as eyes for teddy bears and y’know, if you lose a button.
- Check the composition of your pieces. Cotton is great, but just looking at Primark polyester will make you sweat.
- Just like the buttons, everything in Primark comes complete with coat hanger ribbons. These are largely useless and are guaranteed to work their way out into public view, especially if you’re having a photo taken. Snip them out.
- A Primark sale might sound like the Armageddon come to pass, but there are some gems hidden among the ponchos and sequin shorts. Be prepared to rummage.
- Primark accessories are the best on the high street – avoid the plasticky bags and go for necklaces, rings and bangles at £2 a pop.
Do you shop in Primark? What are your tips for finding the best bargains and avoiding the nasty stuff?