15 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 – and this is how to do it.
Primark certainly isn't everyone's cup of tea, but its seriously low prices and tendency to stock cheaper versions of high-street looks mean it's always been a student favourite – and understandably so.
One thing any frequent shopper will tell you is that you can't just wander into Primark unprepared – and by 'unprepared' we mean mentally, physically and spiritually. Getting your zen on is the only thing that will get you through.
So, take this guide and go forth. You'll thank us later.
Shopping at Primark: what you need to know
These are the best ways to find bargains and save money at Primark:
Find the Primark sale in shops
...but just bear in mind you'll need to have Spy Kid levels of skills to find it.
Despite full-price stock costing less than most other high street stores' reduced items, pretty much every Primark has a section for sale items throughout the year.
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 they're usually getting shot of it for a reason.
You might find the rail is excruciatingly difficult to find. But trust us, it's definitely there. Promise!
Bring a waterproof bag to Primark
Okay, so we're not trying to insult your intelligence here, but it's well worth noting that Primark give out paper bags, not plastic.
It's a move we're 100% behind (we're all for going plastic-free), but plan ahead if you're heading to Primark on a rainy day and bring your own bag (BYOB).
You'll save yourself the 5p charge and make it home without the entire contents spilling onto the puddle-ridden pavement.
Try on clothes in Primark
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 the pits of hell when there are 50 million people in the queue but – trust us – it's worth it. That is unless you fancy going home, realising nothing actually fits and then having to wait in a returns and exchanges queue that's five times as long as the one for the changing room.
If you feel like beating the large waiting room queues, then be super savvy and wear something thin like a vest top and leggings. This way you can try on clothes on the shop floor without making a scene, but still get a good idea of how well they fit (because the thin clothes shouldn't make a huge difference).
Buy Primark clothes on Amazon
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 doesn't sell any of their products online – from their own site, at least.
You can view a lot of what they have on Primark's website, but there's no shopping cart option available. According to Primark's Chief of Finance, this is because online "doesn't work at the lower price point".
Keep your receipts to get refunds
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given how 'no frills' the Primark experience is, you absolutely have to keep hold of your receipt if you want to get any kind of a refund.
Even if the product is still in its original condition, with all the tags attached, and you only bought it the day before, Primark will not let you return an item without the original receipt (or gift receipt).
Always ask for the receipt and keep it somewhere safe. And even if you don't want to return an item, you can still use your receipt to earn Amazon vouchers.
Be patient in Primark queues
We're warning you now: long queues are pretty much inevitable in Primark. That said, 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, you're in capable hands.
However, if you're keen to get out ASAP, the queues in the men's and children's departments are usually shorter. Check the queues 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 becomes a scene-for-scene remake of Dunkirk.
Rummage through Primark stock
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 actually wants a red Lion King lipstick? That's right, nobody.
Don't be put off if all you can find 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.
And don't get drawn into buying all the rubbish just because it's funny. It's really (really!) not worth the money, even if you think it's pretty cheap.
Be prepared for mess in Primark
As you and everyone else around you will be doing equal amounts of rummaging, the place is likely to look a complete shambles (particularly later in the day).
With massive waves of people frantically rummaging the stock and throwing cast-offs to the wayside, it's unsurprising that sometimes it all merges into a big pile of mush.
Don't be put off though – treat it like a clothing treasure hunt. Or, better still, help to solve the problem by folding up your own cast-offs. No shop assistant enjoys dealing with this carnage.
Know the best times to shop at Primark
As we've mentioned, Primark attracts quite the crowd. So it's inevitable that it will get busy at peak times – and we mean really busy.
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 packed – and as we mentioned previously, you can enjoy the calm before the storm by shopping early in the morning.
Shopping at Primark in the morning is also best, meaning you can move on to some less chaotic stores afterwards. This way, you not only beat the crowds, but you also get to check the cheapest shop first to see if they have what you're after.
Don't buy more than you need
One of the first things you'll notice about Primark is that they have massive baskets for you to put all your shopping in. Spoiler alert: that's because they want you to buy ALL OF THE THINGS.
And while the items in your basket might individually be 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 before reaching the till and ask yourself if you really need everything in it.
Don't get overwhelmed in Primark stores
It's a universally accepted fact that Primark stores are filled with the rudest crowds of people imaginable (please don't become part of the problem).
This can make the whole experience quite overwhelming, but don't run away now – there are great deals to be found.
Just make sure you're mentally ready. A calming smile, some steely grit and a large dose of bargain-hunting determination should see you right.
Look in all Primark departments
Don't be confined to shopping in the department of the gender you identify most with – there's a whole other 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 more slim-fitting clothes, you might 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, it doesn't mean you can't turn to staff for help.
If you're not sure where something is, it's much quicker and easier to ask. After all, you need to get out of that island of £1 pants before your bank account self-combusts.
Dress for all seasons
From our extensive research into the various Primark stores around the UK, there's one thing we've noticed that they haven't quite got down yet: the temperature in the shop.
We'd highly recommend you go dressed in a couple of layers which, crucially, can be removed easily (we're thinking hoodies, cardigans, etc.). That way you'll be prepared for the equally high chances of feeling like you've been transported to the Arctic or the Bahamas.
Be conscious of price in Primark
We know we say this in every single article (or at least it feels like it), but don't settle for the prices you find in Primark just 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 in the shop's a bit pricey, leave it and do some price checking elsewhere.
Also, if you find that Primark quality is too low for some of the price tags or there's something wrong with items (i.e. there's a stain, discolouration or a small tear), 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 these Amazon shopping hacks for students to find out how to save big.