Now that we are in throes of the Christmas period, shopping can be a rather crazy/stressful process, and Primark (which can be a hazardous shopping environment as it is), can become even more chaotic than usual.
Shopping is meant to be a pleasureable experience (it's not called retail therapy for nothing), but some shops like Primark (and TKMaxx) are just asking for trouble: clothes on the floor, piles of shoes everywhere, massive queues....
After my most recent outing to Primark (during which time I ended up in a foul mood and only bought a couple of items - usually unheard of for me in Primark!), I came out thinking that it is a shop that definitely has to be tackled with some sort of strategy for optimum shopping results, hence this post!
So here's my guide to shopping in Primark - feel free to add your own tips in the comments section :)
1. Make sure you're in a good/neutral mood. There is nothing worse than trying to tackle people with pointy elbows, mums with prams, and often jumble sale-like conditions whilst in a bad (or emotional) mood, and it's likely to ruin the rest of your day (or at least the part of it spent shopping).
2. Find a primark near you of a good size, simply because the smaller ones are, well, crap. I'm quite lucky my nearest store is a split-level one, not too big, not too small, and if I want a MEGA primark I can travel a little further afield and go to either the Primark stores in Braehead or in Glasgow city centre.
Saying that, the biggest ones can also be a bit overwhelming, so maybe medium sized is the way to go!
3. Go first thing in the morning or midweek, simply and obviously because the store is far quieter, all the produce will be neatly set out, you'll get first dibs on any new stock, and the hangars should have the correct sized clothing on them (my pet hate)!
4. Go to Primark first - don't want to be hauling round other bags (unless you have someone to hold them for you - see point 5!) when both hands are needed!
5. Take someone with you - I always find that sometimes a second opinion is needed when it comes to Primark clothes, particularly when trying them on. Ideally this 'helper' should NOT a boyfriend/partner/fiance, as if my experiences are anything to go by, they'll generally just traipse round after you looking miserable and will say anything to get you out the shop!
6. Take a shoulder/across body bag so you can keep your hands free to rummage through the rails and hold your giant Primark basket.
7. Wear whatever you class as sensible, comfortable shoes that can easily be removed/put on to try on primark shoes, as more often than not you'll go to try and sit on the (frankly rubbish) seating provided in the store, and find that they are either covered in a mountain of shoes, or will have various individual's grans/mums/boyfriends/children sitting waiting there. If you wear (for example) ballet pumps or pull on boots you'll find trying on shoes standing up a bit easier.
8. Wear leggings, as they're not as bulky as jeans and you can try most things over the top without having to change out of them.
9. Wear plain tops (such as a white t-shirt or neautral vest top) and a nude coloured bra (ideally) so that, similarly to the leggings, you can try things over the top whilst still getting an idea of how the item of clothing will fit/look. With the nude coloured bra you can try on sheer blouses, for example, and see how they fit/look without having a big black bra staring out at you!
10. Similar to above, try and wear layers of clothing rather than just a top and a coat, so that if you get too warm, you can slip off a cardigan or scarf rather than having to haul about a big bulky jacket. The only disadvantage to this is that it can add to your time when trying stuff on, but i'd rather that than looking like a frizzy haired, heat-rashed crazy person as I often do!
11.. Take a bottle of water and a small snack in your (shoulder) bag - it may technically be 'prohibited' by Primark, but I personally have been prone to fainting, and sometimes with all the lights, central heating, crazy changing rooms and hauling a heavy basket round I feel a bit light headed, and so a drink of water and a nibble of a snack in the changing rooms gives me a boost and stops me leaving the shop before i've even bought anything.
In the thick of it...
In the thick of it...
12. Don't use the classic 'primark head' - i.e. buying everything because it's cheap, for which I am often guilty as charged. If you get there early you've got all the time in the world to consider if it's something you'll really wear/use, and if you've got someone with you, you can ask their opinion. Primark might still be cheap compared to the likes of Topshop, but the prices have definitely increased, and so the cost of any unwanted/unused products will definitely add up.
13. Try everything on (unless you don't mind returning items), even if the queues are mahoosive and you can't face it, as Primark sizes vary crazily, and literally from stock to stock. I generally am a 10/12 but often find myself buying size 18 jumpers and cardigans. Doing this can also save you money, cause if you're like me you might buy something, find it doesn't fit, but by the time you go to return it you discover the returns period has ran out. oops.
14. Try and shop in a particular order. So for example when I first enter Primark and pick up my basket, I immediately look for clothes that can't be tried on out in the shop floor and must be tried in the changing room (i.e. jeans), and put these in my basket and go to the changing room. Then after that process, I search for things that can be tried on over my current clothing - cardigans, jackets etc. Last but not least I have a look for accessories/jewellery/shoes/bags.
Doing it this way means when I go to the changing room i'm not weighed down with shoes, jewellery etc that I have to trawl through to find the stuff I want to try on!
15. Look at labels stitched into clothing and NOT at the sizing on the hangars.
16. Never assume that just because you’ve bought this exact item before, that it will fit the same as your last one did. Sizes are more of a ‘guide’ than a definitive rule. Relates to point 13.
17. Never assume that all the garments on one clothing rail will be the same as the one on the front. Dig deeper for the things nobody else has found!
18. Remember to look in the menswear department! I have found some amazing t-shirts, jumpers and accessories here, and women shopping in this area seems to be more commonplace nowadays (largely in part due to Barbara at The Persian Babe ha).
So there you have it, my definitive guide to Primark shopping. Like I said earlier, please leave me any of your shopping survival tips - the more the merrier!