Walking down London’s Oxford street, you can’t miss the sea of aqua blue shopping bags hooked on the arms of nearly every shopper. Follow the trail of bags and you will be led back to their mothership– Primark.
What the heck is Primark?
Primark is London’s answer to the discount department store, a cross between the fast fashion of an H&M and the home goods of a Target, with some British whimsy thrown in. Like Target “Tar-zhay”, Primark has even earned its own faux designer moniker– “Primani”.
While Primark might be a great spot for locals to stock up on everyday essentials on the cheap, I wasn’t sure if it had anything that would interest a visitor here on vacation.
Then I received a tip that tourists recently were seen raiding Primark for its super cheap London-themed souvenirs. In the interest of research, I went to Primark to check it out.
I had barely stepped through the front door of Primark when I started to feel dizzy– Primark is insanely crowded. If you have a non-shopper in your party, I would strongly recommend you drop them off at a nearby pub before venturing in or you won’t hear the end of it later. For expert shoppers exhilarated by bumping elbows and rummaging for bargains, you’ll have a blast at Primark. For everyone else I recommend you follow my suggested shopping strategies:
1. London Tote Bags, £1.5
First, head upstairs to the main cash registers. Here you’ll find racks of tote bags with classic London designs.
At only £1.50, these totes are so inexpensive that you can afford to buy a dozen of them. Pop in some British biscuits and candy bars, and you’ll have DIY London gift bags, ready for mass distribution when you head back to the office.
2. London Souvenir Pillows, £4
Next, head to the bedding department. Here you’ll find a selection of London themed souvenir pillows.
While you can find posher London pillows elsewhere, I challenge you to find a pillow for less than £4. I’d heard that tourists had been seen buying these pillows in multiples and removing the inserts for easy packing, presumably to re-stuff back home. While this sounds like a lot of trouble, for the thrifty and crafty, it could be an economical option. The helpful employees in the bedding department also let me know that they sometimes get in Union Jack themed duvet covers, which sounded like they might be worth a look.
3. Other London-ish souvenirs
Scattered throughout Primark, you’re likely to come across other everyday items with some British flair that might make a good souvenir or gift for someone back home. Here’s what I found on my visits.
3. British whimsy at Primark
What I refer to as “British whimsy” others might call downright ridiculous. In any case, Primark has plenty of fun items that are guaranteed to make you crack a smile. My picks–
And finally, this brilliant jumper captures two hot trends at once– the Christmas sweater craze and everyone’s favorite, googly eyes— so really, how can you go wrong? Modeled by one of my favorite travel bloggers, the always in-the-know Adam of the top-rated, hipster travel website Travels of Adam.
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Have you shopped Primark while visiting London? Share your finds in the comments below!
Want to read more London posts? Start here:
A walk through the Harry Potter gift shop at Platform 9 3/4, London
Why this New Yorker loves the London Underground (and my picks from the London Transport Museum Shop)
Big Ben, the British Flag and a Telephone Box: Why we love British Kitsch
Fashion Forward Brits Declare Love for the Onesie– Not just for Babies
London Souvenir Shopping Details:
Primark (various locations, I visited the store closest to Marble Arch Station)
499 – 517 Oxford Street
London, W1K 7DA
Sunday 12:00 – 18:00
Monday-Friday 08:00 – 22:00
Saturday 08:00 – 21:00