Primark to opens first US Chicago store, major boost for Centra Loop area
today Jul 10, 2019
Primark is continuing its slow and steady expansion in the US and is set to open its first Midwestern store in downtown Chicago. The company has signed up for a 45,000 sq ft building on the corner of State and Washington Streets. The owner of the property, Georgetown, said that it’s the largest retail lease on State Street in five years.
It's an important development for Chicago as well as for Primark as the shop space, which was previously a Gap store, has been empty for two years. There had been speculation that the landlord would knock the store down and replace it with a high-rise mainly-non-retail building.
The arrival of a value-focused fashion and homewares retailer with a strong speed-to-market strategy should help to drive more visitor traffic to the neighbourhood. Despite the opening of Millennium Park 15 years ago that helped to boost traffic, retailer demand for store space has been weak as online shopping has grown. Local reports said the Central Loop area of Chicago saw a vacancy rate of almost 16% last year, up from 13.5% in 2017.
And the point about Primark is that anyone who wants its products has to go to one of its stores as it doesn’t sell online and doesn’t look like it will do so any time soon. Even persistent rumours that it might open a webstore have also come with suggestions that click & collect might be its main delivery offer, further boosting visitor numbers to its physical shops.
The company has only been in the US for four years and has avoided the over-ambitious expansion strategy that some other European and Asian retail giants have adopted there. Instead of rolling out new shops ultra-quickly, it has been cautious and currently has only nine US shops, all of them on the East Coast where it knows there’s strong demand.
Its property director Tom Meager said it has “been searching for a Midwest location as part of the company’s continued expansion into the United States. We are fortunate to have found and secured such an impressive location in the heart of the vibrant Chicago market.”
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