One of the most asked questions during this pandemic, apart from, when will lockdown be over, has to be, why doesn’t Primark have an online store? That is a very good question considering that the Irish retailer operates in over 370 stores in twelve countries across Europe and America. Primark offers a range of womenswear, cosmetics, kids and even homeware, all at affordable prices. It’s often seen at the go-to shop for basics and last-minute bits, just before that holiday. Following measures to stop the spread of Covid-19, the UK government has forced all non-essential stores to close, resulting in the clothing giant going from making and estimated £650m in sales per month to £0, that’s a total estimated loss of £1.5b in sales thus far.
In 2013, Primark trialed stocking some of it's products on ASOS, but it wasn’t successful and ended after just 12 weeks. Much of the reason why is linked to the Primark consumers shopping behaviour. Have you ever gone into the store to buy one thing and left with a heap full of stuff? Yeah me too. You are more likely to abandon your cart online but it’s very rare to leave a full shopping basket in the middle of a shop floor. Emotions also play a large role in shopping behaviour. There is a human side of in-store shopping and shoppers enjoy the in-store experience, especially for those who identify themselves as bargain hunters. Primark’s in store promotions can often see clothing goods go for as low as £1. There are a few unofficial Primark resellers online but Primark advise that customers shop in store for the best value.
These extremely low-price points add to the reason why Primark do not feel it is feasible to sell online. John Bason, the finance director of Primark told The Wall Street Journal, stated that the reason why they don't sell their clothes online is: 'The cost to support home delivery can't be supported with our price points...The margins are so small that it can be difficult to sell a £3 T-shirt when you’re spending the same amount just to ship it,’
With all that being said, in a time like this it really makes you think, when other clothing retailers such as Boohoo and ASOS are maximising sales, Primark is building up unsold inventory.
What Will Primark Look Like After Lockdown?
So what would be the ideal solution for all the Primark hungry customer and large amount of unsold goods? It’s simple enough…a sale! There has been some speculation that Primark will be holding massive clearance sales, bigger than before, in order to ship their backlog of stock. This is a strategy even being taken up by the likes of luxury department store Harrods, who plan on opening up an outlet in Westfield, White City, to sell their unsold goods, caused by lockdown restrictions and excess inventory.
The future of shopping post lockdown is uncertain, many authorities have stated that rather than move on from Covid-19, we will need to adapt to the “new normal”. This will mean restricted footfall in places and practicising social distancing measures. A brilliant idea from Twitter user @Marissa_Ipx was to implement the use of a Primark app that will allow people wanting to shop at the store to book ahead, create a wish list and view the store plan, so they know exactly where to go when instore. This will reduce customer contact and reduce the amount of time spent instore.
As stores are expected to re-open tomorrow (15th June), Primark have put in measures to protect it's staff and customers. According to a spokesperson for the company extensive measures have been put into place in place to help safeguard. This includes clear signage and floor decals, hand sanitiser stations and perspex screens at tills. It will be interesting to see the success all the new protocol, not only for Primark but for all other retail stores.
Written by Misi Chanel, 2020