EXPECT queues. Long queues full of frozen fashion-savvy shoppers.
At 9am this Saturday the much-anticipated opening of Edinburgh’s first Primark store will take place – and the frenzy for discount fashion will be fraught.
Not just because of the styles and prices, but because a pent-up desire for discount fashion has been building for four years as the chain has performed a will-it, won’t-it dance around finding the right location in the city.
Those who couldn’t wait have been riding the train to Glasgow, Stirling and Dunfermline, where the Irish retailer has long been creating fashion furies with its ability to turn around catwalk styles at cheap as chip prices, and updating the stock every six weeks.
But that will all stop when the former M&S ladieswear store on Princes Street (or Littlewoods for those with longer memories) throws open the doors and lets the first shoppers into its 75,000 sq ft of retail space. And those who did wait will finally discover what all the fuss is about.
It’s the 19th Primark store in Scotland – the 227th in Europe – and its arrival is already being described by some as the “most exciting retail event in Princes Street for a generation”.
Indeed, others have gone so far as to say that the arrival of discount fashion chain Primark in the capital is just as important as Harvey Nichols’ and that it will “transform” the fortunes of the city’s famous shopping street.
There’s a lot riding on it then, but editor of Retail Week, Tim Danaher, says the company is a “real driver” in getting bodies back into the high street, particularly younger shoppers. He says the store can act as a magnet for customers and also commercial rivals keen to exploit the anticipated spike in footfall around the outlet.
“Primark has an amazing effect on a lot of towns when it opens just because it gets people back into the town,” he says. “Its magic is its ability to translate trends on the catwalks to the shops and get them out there cheaply in double-quick time. It’s something unique. It’s a destination and not many retailers can claim they are a genuine destination.”
Certainly, that ability to get trends into stores in a short time, is one reason why Primark doesn’t bother advertising.
It may buck every trend in the history of selling clothes but you won’t find its latest wares draped across the model of the moment in the pages of glossy magazines.
So just what will it offer across its four floors? High fashion at discounted prices obviously, but those looking for something new for Christmas parties won’t be short of choice as our exclusive fashion shoot reveals.
Slim-fit suits for men and high-glamour for women, with sequins scattered across everything from Peter Pan collars to dresses and shoes, palazzo pants in gold and faux fur jackets to keep out the cold when waiting in taxi ranks.
Nothing on these pages costs more than £30 – great for the purse, but the kind of price which leaves many questioning how it can be done.
According to Primark, it keeps costs down by refusing to advertise, buying in bulk and using state-of-the-art “logistics systems”, which get the clothes to stores as cheaply as possible.
Of course, the one nagging doubt is that even though supermarkets and other retailers are selling cut price clothes, someone, somewhere must be being exploited for our fashion fix.
Primark itself was accused of using child labour in India – an allegation it robustly refuted, so much so that the BBC Trust and the Panorma programme which ran the fabricated footage had to apologise and admit it should never have been shown.
So, with its ethics unblemished, its fashion nous second to none, and its prices at rock bottom, Primark could soon buck another trend and make Princes Street a go-to place for cutting-edge fashion once again.