Primark’s chief executive Paul Marchant has slammed claims that COVID-19 has brought about a permanent shift to online shopping.
In an article published in The Times, Marchant took aim at pundits who claim “COVID-19 has merely speeded up an inevitable and permanent shift from in-store to online shopping”, calling them “wrong” and “naïve”.
Marchant cites research conducted by his wildly popular fast fashion brand Primark, which reportedly suggests that shoppers “civic pride and, by extension, self-esteem” comes from their hometown, village or city.
Therefore, boarded up high streets full of closed and collapsed retailers “chisels away” at people’s sense of self-worth.
He goes on to argue that physical shopping is an “extremely important” aspect of our social lives across demographics.
It comes just a week after Primark reopened its doors after the second national lockdown to queues stretching the length of high streets.
The second lockdown hit Primark hard, seeing its parent company Associated British Foods report a £430 million sales decline, significantly more than the £375 million it had previously anticipated.
To make up for lost time Primark announced plans to open 11 of its stores for 24 hours on December 2 when lockdown was lifted.
It is also planning to open one store in Scotland for 36 hours from Friday December 11, hoping to capitalise on a post-lockdown Christmas rush.
This has urged Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon to call on retailers to “please, please be responsible”.
“I’m not going to stand here and comment on things picked up on social media about 36 hours continuous openings (but) retailers have to be responsible for their own sake,” she continued.
“If we find over the next few days that we start to have crowded people in shops and the virus starts spiralling again, then I can’t rule out standing here shutting down non-essential retail again.”