Health and Disability · Invisible illnesses

Has Primark got disabled shopping right?

Primark in the metrocentre has been refurbished and I went in the other day as I was looking for some  superhero T-shirts and they usually have some good ones. I need to use my scooter in the metrocentre now and scooting into the store the other day I went to the lift and headed to the lower floor with the womenswear section. I’m a bit anal when shopping and like to go around the store in a specific order moving clockwise around the floor then heading to the changing rooms if I need to try things on so that I don’t miss anything, and to try and save time so I’m not shopping for longer than I need to be, saving energy! Primark is a bit more difficult as the floor isn’t set up in a linear fashion and I end up going back on myself a bit in some sections.

So I started scooting around the shop picking out a few things, it’s not too bad for manoeuvring the scooter around the clothes, but occasionally I had to go back on myself and find another route so not ideal, but not a huge challenge. People are mainly pretty nice and moved out of my way, but some are just a bit rude and determined to not move even with a polite excuse me, so I had to back up and head in to have a look at things I’d spotted after they’d moved on. 

Carrying one of the Primark baskets while on the scooter is a bit of a challenge as they’re huge and just make me wider so I can’t manoeuvre through the aisles so I didn’t use one and just kept things in the basket on my scooter or on my knee as I was looking around. Once I’d looked at everything I headed towards the changing rooms and was greeted by a lovely assistant who directed me to the accessible changing room which was right at the front. She let me take in everything I had which was more than you’re allowed, kept my other items by the desk and said to press the bell if I needed any help. The changing room had loads of space to get my scooter in, rails and a seat. The mirrors were in slightly odd places and there wasn’t one of those mirrors on hinges so you can see your back easily which some stores have, but I had loads of space so started getting changed. This is exhausting for me so I went slowly, but found there wasn’t any hooks to hang the clothes on, again I’m a bit anal and like to put yes items on one hook and no items on another to keep me organised, but I used the rails so not a huge problem. When I came out the same lovely assistant helped me reverse out of the changing room, sorted out my items and got people to move out of my way so I could get out and back into the main bit of the store (again some manners and general awareness are needed with some people!)

I now wanted some new shoes as I need some flat, slip ons that have a bit more structure and comfort than the ballet flats I’ve been wearing as tying laces and walking in boots is getting tricky so I was scooting about looking for the shoe section. After giving up and asking a member of staff I headed back to the lifts as they’ve moved upstairs. A lovely lady and her daughter helped guide me out as I reversed and asked people to leave enough space for me. 

The shoe department was a bit of a nightmare as there was loads of stuff on the floor and I struggled to get the scooter around the fixtures. I found a couple of pairs of cute slip on trainer type shoes and headed to the tills which are now hidden behind walls. If you’ve shopped in Primark you know that the tills are in large banks with winding aisles to manage the queues. The aisles are covered with small products which I always knock into even if I’m walking! The queues are always pretty long and standing in one would be a nightmare for me, and I was sat looking at the set up and trying to figure out how I was going to manage their system…when an assistant motioned to me and told me to come over. I noticed there were 2 till areas, one at each end of the till banks with disabled signs above them and lower desks. She told me that I can skip the queues and pay at these tills!! I was amazed! She was lovely and chatty and we talked about the recent refurb and she’s not sure about the walls hiding the till banks, and working on customer services is awful as its a hole in a wall…I didn’t see it, but doesn’t sound good! I left Primark with a huge bag (double bagged, not asked for, great service) with a shirt (buttons I can leave fastened for easy dressing) black jeggings (hides a multitude of sins and much more comfortable than jeans) 2 pairs of slip on trainer shoes, pack of big knickers, 4 bras that actually fit me (no more 4 boobies look for me!) 2 pairs of PJ’s (my usual clothing, one pair is Batman!! Very cool!) a long pink cardi (snugly and not granny like) and a pink Autumn jumper (long enough to wear over jeggings to cover tum and bum!) all for Β£77. Ideal world I’d prefer to buy clothes that will last a long time and that I don’t need to worry about the conditions and issues around them being made…but also I like bargains, I am on a limited income now and very few of my clothes currently fit me! So needs must and Primark suprised me with how disability friendly they were.

Positives:

1 – Disabled tills!! Very impressive and I’ve never seen this before! It made me feel special and valued as a customer.

2 – Friendly, helpful staff who treated me like a person, not a problem, inconvenience or a challenge. I wish I’d got the names of the 2 female members of staff who served me as they were fab and deserve some recognition. 

3 – Accessible changing room. It was right by the entrance to the changing area and had enough space for me and my scooter plus another person could have fitted in easily if I’d had a friend with me to help out.

4 – Big lifts. Easy to manoeuvre in and out of and fixtures set up away from the entrances so I could manage to reverse out of them without much difficulty.

Negatives:

1 – Some areas weren’t directly accessible, I had to go round some fixtures to get to things I wanted to see.

2 – Store isn’t set up so that you can move around it on a set route which means it takes longer to get around everything. Not great when you have chronic fatigue and need to do things quickly.

3 – Baskets are huge and impossible to carry with a scooter or wheelchair as the aisles aren’t wide enough for both. Also can’t carry them on the scooter as the handles are weird.

4 – Shoe area gets messy with shoes and hangers on the floor that make it really difficult to manoeuvre through the section. This needs to be cleaned up more frequently.

There has obviously been a lot of thought put into the design of this store to make it friendly to disabled shoppers. I was really impressed with the tills and the staff and managed to get what I was looking for on one trip.

Thanks Primark and well done!

Which shops do you like and why?

Vic xx

P.S. I had a quick look on their website and I’m feeling a bit better about the ethics of the company now.  https://m.primark.com/en/our-ethics

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