Original article from Kent Live
Thousands of people have been photographed queuing in what seemed to be endlessly long lines outside Primark shops.
Primark is one of the country's most popular retailers and that was reflected in the number of shoppers waiting outside the door from times as early as 6am at Kent's Bluewater Shopping Centre.
Big queues also developed outside branches at Westwood Cross in Thanet and Bouverie Place Shopping Centre in Folkestone.
But as these images circulated online, many have been quick to pour scorn on those on those joining the queues.
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Criticism came partly for the customers' readiness to rush back into shopping centres, despite the ever-presence of COVID-19.
It was also angled partly at their choice of the budget, no-frills retailer as their first point of call.
Many pointed out that not only is making the most of the lifting of the new restrictions completely legal, but the need to shop at lower price stores is sometimes not simply a choice.
Social media users have taken to Twitter to defend Primark shoppers, and if you've found yourself criticising them yourself, this could be a good message to take in.
"If you're sneering at people queuing for cheap clothes, you should be thankful that you just don't get it. Living in poverty is crushingly hard, take your 'hot takes' about Primark and TK Maxx and 'finding local, sustainable alternatives and p*ss off," tweeted one person.
One mum braved social media to share her own experience.
Another wrote: "If someone wants to queue for Primark today then just let them. It’s not affecting you, is it? It’s not something I’d personally do but there’s no need to shame other people for doing it. Maybe they just need to go to a shop to feel some sense of normality again."
A third said: "Before you criticise people for queuing outside Primark, consider: 1) We're heading into summer. Kids grow. It's a fair bet that last year's summer clothes don't fit this year's child. 2) some people don't have any means of shopping online."
And a fourth commented: "Overall views on my Bluewater trip- if you're not going to Primark, it's fine. I think people were just excited to go into a non essential shop and mill about!"
Comments in a similar vein on the social media platform were plentiful. Some criticised the judging comments, regardless of the reason why people were shopping at Primark.
One wrote: "I wish people would stop judging what others are doing. If someone wants to be outside Primark queueing or sat outside a pub in the cold then let them? We’ve lived in a state of misery for a year and people still need to spread negativity at people making the most of life."
Whilst Primark has faced criticism for its factory conditions and worker wages, the chain has also drawn praise for its commitment to providing a budget fashion option, and its commitment to customers who need the chain the most.
In 2019 company strategist Jeroen Kraaijenbrink wrote in Forbes: "What Primark is doing so well is that they know their DNA and stick to it in everything they do.
"This means that the company is very well aligned internally and externally around the way they create value for their customers."
Kraaijenbrink also points out that running on this model makes operating an online store hard to do – meaning many Primark shoppers have been unable to order to their homes during lockdown.
That is another contributing factor to why Primark shops are so busy today and why it might not be as simple as it seems on those pictures of queues around the block.