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How Will Primark’s US Expansion Impact Target?

Shira Petrack
May 30, 2023
How Will Primark’s US Expansion Impact Target?

Primark is a popular European retailer that now operates 16 stores in the United States (as of February 2023), with plans to reach 60 U.S. locations by 2026. The company prides itself on its low prices, relies on “word-of-mouth” marketing, carries a large selection of apparel, home goods, and beauty products, and focuses on its own private labels – inviting comparisons to one of America’s favorite retailers.

To see the differences and similarities between Primark and Target visitors – and to better understand how Primark’s U.S. expansion is likely to impact Target’s growth – we analyzed location intelligence data for two sets of neighboring Primarks and Targets. 

Primark’s Brick-and-Mortar Focus

Primark does not have an ecommerce platform in the U.S. although it does operate a U.S. website that lets customers check inventory online. The retailer has also successfully tested a “click-and-collect” service in the U.K. – which it might replicate stateside – but for now, U.S. customers can only purchase Primark wares at the company’s brick-and-mortar locations. 

To draw traffic to its stores, Primark selects sites with a higher population density. The brand’s U.S. President Kevin Tulip has stated that the brand looks for “great footfall areas” during its site selection process, and many Primarks stores are located in bustling shopping centers or downtown areas – often close to existing Target locations.

Primark’s Sunrise, Florida store – opened in October 2020 – is less than half a mile away from an existing Target store. And the company’s store in the Roosevelt Field shopping center on Long Island – opened in November 2022 – is around a mile away and across a parkway from Target’s Westbury, NY store. In both cases, the Primark True Trade Area is larger than that of Target – perhaps due to the relatively few Primark stores compared with the ubiquity of Target. The Primark trade area also seems to be more densely populated than that of the neighboring Target, in line with the company’s site selection strategy. 

How do Primark and Target Visitors Compare? 

The two Primarks don’t just differ from their respective neighboring Targets in terms of trade area size and population density. Diving deeper into the demographic composition within the trade areas and looking at visitor behavior within the stores reveals additional key distinctions between the two companies’ visitor base.

From January to April 2023, the Primark locations saw higher visits per square foot, likely a result of the scarcity of Primark stores relative to Target. The Target stores saw a higher share of visit frequency and of returning visitors, which could indicate that Target’s grocery offerings are driving visitors to incorporate the store into their regular shopping routine. Meanwhile, the two Primark locations saw a longer median dwell time and a larger share of midday visits than their neighboring Targets – perhaps because Primark visitors want to take the time to browse and don’t try to squeeze in trips before or after work. 

More surprisingly, the median household income in the Primark trade areas was slightly lower that of the Target trade areas – even though Primark focuses on more discretionary categories while Target’s emphasizes its essentials such as pharmacy and grocery. This could indicate that, despite the ongoing economic headwinds, some lower-income consumers are willing to shop for non-necessities if the price is right. 

Enough Consumer Demand to Sustain Both Brands 

Location intelligence suggests that Primark’s U.S. expansion will not come at the expense of Target. While the two brands may share some similarities – both carry affordable apparel, home goods, and beauty supplies, rely heavily on private labels, and even select nearby sites for their stores – Target and Primark also seem to be fulfilling different consumer needs. 

Target has invested heavily in its grocery operations over the past couple of years and is now doubling down on its wellness offerings. In several states, Target stores also include health clinics operated by CVS Health or Kaiser Permanente. Primark, on the other hand, focuses on affordable makeup, trendy apparel, and generally tries to cultivate a “kid-in-a-candy-store” feel that lets customers engage in retail therapy without breaking the bank.

It seems, then, that Target is likely to continue serving as a go-to destination for basic necessities while offering visitors a little “affordable joy” along the way. Meanwhile, Primark seems to focus almost exclusively on budget-friendly indulgences while carrying some cost-effective essentials, such as inexpensive childrens’ apparel. So while there is some overlap between the two chains, Target and Primark also fit into slightly different slots in the wider U.S. retail landscape. 

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