Hundreds of shoppers lined the streets of Hastings for up to an hour this morning as they eagerly awaited the opening of the new Primark store.
The queue – approximately 400 deep – stretched from the front of the store all the way back to Costa as shoppers waited patiently in the wind and rain to get inside the store Hastings has waited years for.
One of those delighted to see it open was Linda Heddlee, from Hastings, who queued from about 8.55am.
She said: “The town has been waiting years for today. I used to have to go to Eastbourne for this but I don’t have to travel anymore.
“I got here early but that wasn’t intentional. I’m not online so I wasn’t sure when it was actually going to open but I’m first in line.
“I think Primark will be great for Hastings because it will bring shoppers to the town and that will help other businesses.”
Chris Allen was another shopper who braved the conditions to get to the front of the queue.
The father-of-one said he was most looking forward to checking out the childrenswear section for his three-year-old daughter.
He added: “I got here at about 8.30am but I didn’t realise I could queue up until about 9am.
“The Primark clothes are cheap and offer a great variety. The difficulty for many is they can’t afford to travel over to Eastbourne so it’s great to have something here. I live in London Road so I can just walk to this store.” A number of customers said they were concerned Primark would pull out on plans to open in Hastings after its opening was delayed from summer 2018 to early 2019.
Jenny Shirley believes the arrival of the retail giant will help other shops in the town.
She added: “(Primark) will bring shoppers to the town and that is the biggest challenge for the high street.
“Once people are in the town, they will shop in Primark and other businesses will benefit from it.
“It’s nice to have a shop like Primark opening here because they are likely to stay for years. There would be uproar if they decided to leave so soon.”
As for Primark’s delay, Jenny said her emotions have been ‘up and down’.
She added: “We were told they would open, then they wouldn’t, and then they would again. I think a lot of people lost heart with it but it’s here now.”
Vicky Evans is another customer who is excited to explore Primark’s childrenswear section.
A mum of two teenagers, she said finding clothes they find cool can be difficult: “They don’t wear Paw Patrol anymore so Primark offers a variety of clothes for them.
“People will stay in Hastings now Primark is here and that is great for the town. The majority of people do shop in Primark.
“It is going to be here for a long time.”
Janet Holyoake, who had been queuing since 9.35am, thinks Primark will have a great impact on Hastings.
She added: “It will bring people here.
“I think it’s great. This shop has been empty for so long since BHS left so it’s great for the town.”