Anyone who remains sniffy about the impact of Primark on a town needs their head examining.
Primark isn’t an obvious knight in shining armour, but recent events have shown that’s exactly what it is to the nation’s floundering high streets. Whether it’s the grotty eastern end of Oxford Street, soon-to-lose-its-M&S Scunthorpe or any of the other ten towns where it’s taking over the Bhs store, it’s providing a rare ray of sunshine for second tier locations for which new retailers are proving hard to come by.
So why are people still so sniffy about it? We’ve been rung up by quite a few local journalists about the M&S closure in Scunthorpe, and it seems people up there don’t recognise the benefit that Primark is going to bring to the town. It’s a different shopper to M&S, that’s for sure, but the fact is that in today’s retail world Primark is a footfall driver like no other.
For a town like Scunthorpe, that can have real benefits, drawing younger shoppers back into the town who would otherwise have had to go to Grimsby or Hull for their fashion fix. The same is true for a lot of the other towns where tired Bhs stores are going to be transformed into Primarks, and for the eastern end of Oxford Street, where the deal to take over the former Zavvi store will be far more important than Crossrail or anything else in rejuventating a stretch of the street which is currently a disgrace to the capital.
Primark may not have the heritage of some names on the high street, but for a secondary high street it pulls in the shoppers like no other brand today. If I was a town centre manager, I’d be begging it to come.
PS There’s quite amusing evidence of what I’m describing on the comments at the bottom of this story from the Scunthorpe Telegraph - also note the poll result.