Primark, the fast fashion giant, has made a remarkable comeback as its stores reopen worldwide. Despite not having an online presence, the company reported sales of £1.6 billion in the third quarter, a significant increase of 207% compared to the same period last year. Although total sales for the year are down by 11% at £3.837 billion, Primark’s performance in Q3 demonstrates the enduring popularity of its physical stores.

At the beginning of the third quarter, Primark could only operate from 22% of its retail selling space due to strict restrictions. However, as stores gradually reopened over the following months, the company experienced strong sales growth. Like-for-like sales on a two-year basis increased by 3% in Q3, with stores in the UK, Republic of Ireland, France, Italy, and the US performing particularly well. The only region that saw lower sales was continental Europe, as it faced trading restrictions.

The success of Primark during this period can be attributed to pent-up demand in the early weeks after reopening. Customers were more confident about shopping in person, resulting in higher footfall and larger basket sizes. This, in turn, led to fewer markdowns. Although footfall and basket sizes have declined from their peak levels, the company’s strongest markets have maintained higher basket sizes compared to pre-Covid levels, compensating for the lower footfall.

Primark’s value-for-money proposition has resonated with customers and has helped the company gain value and volume share in the wider UK clothing, footwear, and accessories market. The company’s affordable offering has attracted customers to shop in person across all markets. Furthermore, there has been a resurgence in demand for fashion as customers move away from lockdown leisurewear. Primark’s spring/summer ranges for women, such as Joyful Gelato and Garden Party, have received an enthusiastic response, with certain items selling out within weeks.

In terms of product performance, Primark has seen success with its licensed NBA-branded and children’s gaming ranges, particularly in the US. Its new baby collection has also had a strong start. The company has continued to open new stores in Q3 and currently operates from 396 stores with 16.8 million sq ft of retail selling space. It plans to open more stores in Poland, Czechia, and Slovakia while expanding in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the US. Primark has a healthy pipeline of new stores and is eagerly anticipating the opening of its 400th store this autumn.

Overall, Primark has shown remarkable resilience and popularity in its strong Q3 performance. As restrictions ease and consumer confidence returns, the company is positioned for further growth and expansion in the fashion retail market.

Retail Gazette