- Primark, a low-cost European apparel chain, is rolling out more stores in the United States. It opened its ninth US store this week, in Brooklyn, New York.
- The store was described by one Bloomberg writer as a new version of H&M, only with Kmart prices.
- We visited the new store to find out what it is like to shop there.
Primark is making a slow and steady expansion into the United States.
The low-cost, European-headquartered clothing chain just opened its ninth store in the US on July 7. Located in the Kings Plaza mall in Brooklyn, it’s the second of the retailer’s locations in New York.
Its expansion is timed well to take advantage of an explosion in value-oriented stores in the US. While department stores have suffered, off-price and dollar stores have experienced somewhat of a boom in recent times, enabling them to grow and add new locations across the country.
Experts say that the success of value stores can be attributed to larger social changes.
“The middle is disappearing – low and middle-income customers increasingly shop at discounters and dollar stores, forcing retailers that once served these customers, like Bon-Ton and its subsidiary brands, to close shop,” analysts from intelligence firm Gartner L2 wrote in a recent report on department stores.
As the middle class has shrunk, the most successful businesses in retail have become more distinctly split into two sections: luxury and budget stores. According to a recent report released by Deloitte, consumers’ shifting attitudes towards finances and social issues are at the core of the recent upheaval in retail.
Retail is changing in line with consumer income divides, the report said, meaning that high-end and budget retailers are seeing revenues soar, growing 81% and 37%, respectively, in the last five years, according to Deloitte. Meanwhile, the middle is being squeezed out and has only seen a 2% sales increase in the past five years.
We visited Primark’s brand-new store in Brooklyn to see how it will fit into the US retail landscape:
The new store is located at Kings Plaza mall in Brooklyn. This is the ninth Primark store to open in the US and the second in the state of New York.
From our experience, its older, European sister stores are usually more chaotic than this new location.
We were instantly impressed. The store is easy to navigate, and while there is a ton of clothing, it doesn’t feel too squashed in.
There was a mix of basic items such as jeans, which cost between $US7 and $US22 …
… as well as more trendy, seasonal clothing.
The store offers its own lower-cost versions of other brands.
Swimwear was front-and-center in the store. We spotted bikini tops for as little at $US2.50.
Primark has its own low-cost beauty collection, which launched in 2014. Here you can find lipsticks from $US2. Cosmopolitan has compared these products to Kim Kardashian’s beauty line, KKW.
Womenswear is spread across two floors. We headed upstairs to check out its lingerie and shoe sections.
There were a ton of bras and panties, starting at $US4.50 for bralettes and around $US10 for more structured underwire bras.
In some parts of the store, the quality seemed to be in-line with H&M, only cheaper.
This new competition in the US could pose a big risk for fast-fashion retailers, especially H&M, which has struggled in recent years.
While Primark doesn’t compete with other fast-fashion stores such as Zara on style, its cheap basics pose a large threat to H&M.
Source: Business Insider
While this store isn’t necessarily reflective of the entire chain, it did feel very spacious.
There was a large kids’ and babies’ section …
… where some of the clothing was specifically targeted to the location.
This seven-pack of 100% cotton baby clothes costs $US12. At H&M, a similar pack costs $US24.99.
Menswear occupied most of the third-floor space.
It had a similar layout to womenswear — it was stocked with cheap basics along with more expensive, trendy items.
These men’s suits cost $US52 for a jacket and $US25 for trousers. We hunted for a label with material information, but it didn’t seem to have one.
The biggest bargains were in men’s chinos. We spotted a selection that was priced at just $US10.
There were plenty of cheap men’s shoes, but while the quality looked good from afar, up close, they seemed to be very rigid.
The remaining area of the third floor was made up with a homeware section with a mix of bathroom, bedding, and kitchen items, as well as some more decorative pieces.
Overall, the shopping experience was great. The store itself is bright, spacious, and organised, and the assortment is cheap, and in some cases, trendy.
The biggest threat it poses to other retailers in the US is in the affordability of its basics, which threaten to undercut low-cost stores such as H&M and Old Navy, both of which had neighbouring spots in the mall.
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