Primark – Declining Digital part of the plan?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Introduction

2020 had the highest online sale growth seen in 13 years (Econsultancy). The virtual boom has been a blessing for online stores, like Boohoo, who saw sales rise by 40% between September and December 2020 (Econsultancy). On the other hand, Primark have declined the Digital development and stayed traditional with their brick and mortar stores. Many have been dumbfounded by this choice as with continuous lockdowns, and 305 out of 389 global stores closed (BBC), it seems the store is unlikely to face the public and make up for a loss of sales rapidly. The Guardian wrote “Shop closures and other restrictions in its main UK and European markets resulted in a 30% fall in sales to £2bn during the 16 weeks to 2 January 2021. Sales for the Christmas period in 2019 totalled £2.9bn.” The loss in sales potentially drove their decision to refuse the £33m rent payment due last year (The Guardian).

Screenshot of a tweet from twitter with a picture of people queuing outside Primark

Do Primark have a plan?

The brand owned by Associated British Foods, have shut down rumours about a potential online store. Back in 2014, the companies finance chief, John Bason explained to the Mirror that the “margins are so small that it can be difficult to sell a £3 T-shirt when you’re spending the same amount just to ship it.” The only alternative is to increase prices.

Recently, the rumours started circulating again, with #Primark trending on Twitter. The social media team responded within 24h to let their customers down.

Is Social Media enough?

Although an online store isn’t in their 5 year plan, the fashion giant haven’t completely disappeared into the shadows. Their social media presence is extremely high, with user-generated content at the heart of their Instagram feed. Bought a Primark blazer before lockdown? Share your snaps and tag them – you never know who’s content they’re spying on. Additionally, they keep their customers engaged and entertained on Twitter with a series of relatable posts, gifs and inspiration images. But without a link to a website, it is impossible to know how loyal their customers really are.

In order to try and claw back some of their losses, Primark suggested keeping some of the stores open 24h due to the excitement that was raised when they opened for a short period after the first lockdown. Some customers couldn’t sleep (Birmingham Live) due to the excitement and queued outside the store with hundreds of others for hours in order to have a browse.  

Screenshot from Primark Twitter response

What are your thoughts?

Is Primark only special because you can’t get the products elsewhere? Will you be rushing to the store when it re-opens?

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