That’s a lot of items. So much so, in fact, that there have been numerous accounts of how the budget fashion retailer is set to overtake M&S as the nation’s preferred source of clothing.
Now consider this. There are an awful lot more M&S stores than Primark stores – the latter still has only 125 UK outlets. This means that every square inch of Primark space is being “heavily sweated”, to use the popular industry jargon.
Primark is not a retail proposition that includes much in the way of service. The prevailing ethos seems to be that UK shoppers will be prepared to forgo the pleasure of a carefully orchestrated store environment in order to capture the latest fashions at a fraction of the price that would be charged elsewhere on the high street.
And it is a strategy that is bearing fruit. With revenues up 25 per cent in the first half of the financial year to£899 million and profits up 22 per cent, shoppers continue to storm its doors on a daily basis. Everyone, it would seem, is in search of that essential piece of “Primani” to set off the little number that they bought from Harrods, Selfridges or almost anywhere else, come to that.
The fact that we are prepared to brave a store that has rather more in common with a jumble sale than a carefully merchandised shop, speaks volumes about the consumer’s nose for a bargain in these economically straitened times. The difficult question that remains unanswered is where does this leave the other major operators in the UK market?
Take M&S or Next. Both have seen a pretty continuous nibbling away at their share price – probably reflecting market sentiment about the effect of retailers like Primark, as much as the general malaise afflicting the sector as a whole.
Crunch time can’t be far off. As Primark continues to make inroads across the UK and the heady mix of fashion and value seduces shoppers beset by worries about how to pay their energy bills or deal with rising mortgage repayments, something has got to give.
Two things appear certain. Whatever does give, it will not be Primark and this year will also see the demise of a major clothing player. Three cheers for anyone with the name of Ryan, by the way.