14 tips for shopping at Primark
Love it or loathe it, there's no denying you can pick up some serious bargains at Primark. You just have to make it through the carnage first!
Primark certainly isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's a shopping experience incomparable with any other, that's for sure!
Primark's seriously low prices and tendency to stock knock-off versions of high street looks at a fraction of the price means it's always been a student favourite – and understandably!
One thing any frequent shopper will tell you is that you can't just wander in to Primark unprepared – and by prepared we mean mentally, physically, and spiritually. Getting your zen on is the only thing that will get you through.
So here, take this guide and go forth – you'll thank us later.
Shopping at Primark: What you need to know
There's always a reduced items section
…but you'll need to be a ninja to find it!
Despite full price stock costing less than most other high street stores' reduced items, pretty much every Primark also has a reduced section all year round.
A lot of the time you'll find the clothes have been reduced by half or more of their original price, making them a ridiculous level of bargain, but the size of the rail varies depending on what they're trying to get shot of (and normally they're getting shot of it for a reason).
Oh, and one other thing – you might find the rail is excruciatingly difficult to find, but unlike Schrödinger's cat, it is definitely there. Promise!
Primark bags aren't waterproof
Okay, so we're not trying to insult your intelligence here, but it's well worth noting that Primark give out paper bags for their goodies, not plastic.
It's a move we're 100% behind, coz you know ‘the environment', but make sure you think ahead if you're planning to shop on a rainy day (which is most days, if we're being honest) and bring your own bag (BYOB). You'll save yourself the 5p charge, and make it home without the entire contents spilling onto the pavement. Score!
Trying on clothes is a must
You wouldn't buy something from another store without trying it on, so why would you do it in Primark?
Okay, so the changing rooms might seem like scary re-incarnations of the pits of hell when there's 50 zillion people in the queue, but trust us it's worth it! Unless you fancy waiting in a returns and exchanges queue 5 times as long once you go home and realise none of what you bought actually fits.
If you feel like beating the large waiting room queues then be super savvy and wear a vest top and leggings so you can try on your threads on the shop floor without causing a scene.
There's no online option
If you're tempted to throw a strop about the long queues, walk out the door and tell yourself you'll order online instead – think again. Primark are pretty much the only high street store that don't let you buy any of their products online.
You can view a lot of what they have on Primark's website, but there's no shopping cart option available, because online “doesn't work at the lower price point” according the Primark's Chief of Finance. Whatevz!
However, it is possible to buy Primark stock on Amazon, so it's always worth having a scout there.
There will be queues. You will be impatient.
We're warning you now: long queues are pretty much inevitable in Primark. Although, the majority of the time the queues do look longer and scarier than they really are, and the cashiers are pros at dealing with the hoards, so have faith.
That said, men's and children's clothing queues are usually shorter, which could reduce the amount of time you spend waiting to be served, so make sure you check there first (and hope that the rest of the shop hasn't had the same idea!).
Another option is to shop first thing in the morning to avoid the long wait. You also get the added bonus of getting to see all the neatly folded piles of t-shirts, before the masses appear and it's like armageddon.
Be ready to rummage
You can get some serious steals at Primark, but let's face it – there's also a lot of nonsense thrown in there too. Who really wants a pair of 1D knickers? That's right, NO-ONE.
Don't be put off if all you seem to be finding is tat. The gems are there, they're just hiding! Over time your sifting skills will improve and you'll be a pro before you know it. Make sure you come fully fed and watered so you're ready to get stuck in!
Also, don't get drawn into buying all the rubbish because it's funny. As we said, NO-ONE wants 1D knickers.
Be prepared for mess
Similarly, as you and everyone else around you will be doing equal amounts of rummaging, the place is likely to look a complete shambles (particularly the later in the day you go).
With the massive waves of people going in and out of the store rummaging like maniacs and throwing cast-offs to the wayside, it's unsurprising that sometimes it all merges into a big clothey pile of mush.
Don't be put off though – treat it like a clothing treasure hunt (also, why not be a gem and fold up your own cast-offs – no shop assistant enjoys dealing with this carnage!).
Shop at weird times
As we've mentioned, Primark is quite the busy place, so it's inevitable that it will get crazy at peak times – and we mean crazy.
This is pretty easy to counter simply by shopping at more unusual times. Stay clear of weekends and Thursday evenings as these will be completely mental, and as we mentioned previously, enjoy the calm before the storm by shopping early in the morning!
Morning Primark shops are also best as we'd advise starting your shopping day at Primark then moving on to different stores afterwards. This way, you're not only ensuring you tick off the possibility of finding the cheapest option first if it's available, but also for the peace of mind that things can only improve once you make it out those doors in one piece!
Don't buy too much
One of the first things you'll notice about Primark is that they have massive baskets for you to put all your shopping in, and that's because they want you to buy ALL OF THE THINGS.
And while all of the things might be individually quite cheap, it all adds up until suddenly your student loan for the entire month has disappeared.
Take a minute to collect yourself, go through the contents of your basket once more before reaching the till and ask yourself if you really need everything in it.
Don't get overwhelmed
It's a universally accepted fact that Primark stores are filled with the rudest crowds of people imaginable (note: do not be one of them!).
This can make the whole experience quite overwhelming, but don't run away now as there are bargains to be found!
Just make sure you arrive mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepared: with a calming smile, a steely grit and some serious bargain-hunting determination.
Use the men's (or women's) section to your advantage
Don't be confined to just the gender you identify most with – there's a whole other gender section for you to rummage through!
Girls – if you're looking for oversized tops or have a flair for customising, the menswear section is a great place to start and can often be cheaper.
Similarly, if you're a guy looking for some slim-fit jeans, you'd be surprised by the good fits you can find in the women's section.
Don't be afraid to approach staff
Just because Primark is the queen of respectable bargain shopping on the high street, doesn't mean you can't turn to staff for help.
If you're not sure where something is, it's much quicker to ask. After all, you need to get out of that island of £1 knickers before your bank account self combusts.
Dress for all seasons
From our extensive research into the various Primark hubbubs around the UK, there's one thing we've noticed they haven't quite got down yet: the temperature.
We'd highly recommend you go dressed in a variety of layers, as there is an equally high chance you'll feel like you've been transported into the arctic or the Bahamas; sadly, you don't get to pick which.
Be price conscious
We know we say this in every single article (or at least it feels like it) but don't just settle with the prices you find in Primark because the shop is known for bargains: it's still true that you could find your item cheaper elsewhere if you look hard enough.
If you think something's bit pricey, leave it and do some price checking elsewhere. Also, if there's something wrong with your item (a stain, discolouration etc) ask for a discount! Don't just tell yourself you should take it as it is because it's so insanely cheap.
Hungry for more shopping tips? Check out our Amazon shopping hacks for students article for insider tips on how to save big.
So there you have it, a complete guide to going into Primark and surviving it. If you've got any extra tips let us know in the comments below and we'll add the best ones in!