Penneys alert – we get a sneak peek at what’s in store when the retailer reopens here Penneys stores have been shuttered since New Year’s Eve but Irish customers today got a glimpse of what will be on sale when they reopen – whenever that is!

So how does a blazer and shorts in gelato-inspired colours sound or maybe you are in the mood for frilled, mint-green gingham shorts and a gathered cropped top with puff sleeves for your staycation?

Shoppers here got a preview of what’s upcoming across fashion and homewares when Penneys parent Primark reopened 161 stores across Britain today. The fast fashion company’s branches in Northern Ireland remained closed.

While there was snow on the ground in some areas, it didn’t stop enthusiastic shoppers going straight for spring and summer clothing. Selected stores stocked their first ever maternity range called Parenthood.

But for anyone arriving expecting bargains and deep discounts because Primark had not traded online during lockdown, they were in for a disappointment.

Management said “we have carefully reviewed our stock and we will follow our normal approach, which means no special sales or offers.

“The vast majority of our offering is brand new, fresh lines for spring/summer 2021 with lots of new season fashion available.

“We have also taken steps to warehouse some of our autumn/winter stock for later this year. However, more than half of our stock, items such as denim and underwear, is not season dependent meaning we can sell this all year round.”

Meanwhile, customers who shop in their 36 stores in Ireland are going to have to wait a little longer before they can get their hands on the ice-cream hued summer fashions. With no date yet forthcoming from the Government on retail reopening, all customers here can do for the moment is pore over the photographs and plan outfits

Pops of bright colours including coral, lavender and pale pink were an instant attraction with the early shoppers today and in store installations provided clues to new ‘hero’ pieces when the shutters lifted this morning.

Banks of mannequins were dressed in go-to casual options, from short denim jackets to ditzy floral dresses in yellow and burnt oranges and there was considerable interest in a frilly white shirt with grandfather collar and diagonal lace panels across the front.

Mums-to-be were checking out the new Parenthood range of pregnancy jeans, underwear, pyjamas and the ‘hero’ maternity denim overalls which will sell for €21 here when the stores reopen.

The same ice-cream colours for women carry over to kids where a boy’s shirts with images of favourite ice-creams and Disney T-shirts featuring Bugs Bunny’s What’s Up Doc and Looney Tunes from €7.

Menswear sees summer suiting get a contemporary twist thanks to the ever-classic Prince of Wales check with trousers (€20) and a matching bomber jacket (€35) with knit cuffs and collar.

Men’s indigo and black jeans this season come with biker-effect ribbing on the thighs (€25). Shorts come with roomy side leg pockets in camouflage print, tan, cream and khaki . Foreign travel may not be available to us right now but shoppers got in the mood today buying T-shirts and hoodies with logos including Miami, Brklyn 1993, Los Angeles and Tokyo,

One sweatshirt bound to be ‘borrowed’ by the other half is a oversized teal one (€12) with New York City logo and and when it comes to men’s socks, the big vibe is tie dye.

Home bed linen in coral from €10 was selling well, as were mirrored keep-safe boxes (€7), faux foliage and scented candles underlining the deep interest shoppers have in their homes.

Executives at Primark, which is headquartered on Dublin’s Mary Street, were this evening waiting for end of day results so they could monitor uptake of certain looks and shopping preferences in advance of the stores opening here in order to get stock levels right.

Commenting on the return to business, Primark CEO, Paul Marchant said: “It’s been a wonderful morning welcoming our customers back. As expected, stores have been very busy but we’re more than ready and very confident in the safety measures we have in place. The mood has been incredibly upbeat and positive. Our spring/summer ranges are proving a big hit as customers finally get to shop the latest trends as well as stock up on everyday essentials for the whole family.”

Primark had no online website to sell through lockdowns unlike their fast-fashion competitors, so they have taken a major hit. In January, it was reported by the BBC that closures of stores could cost more than £1bn in lost sales.

Last November, their parent company, Associated British Foods (ABF) said that the temporary closure of stores would cost €416m.

They saw a 30pc sales fall to £2bn in the 16 weeks up to January 2 this year.

However, despite having 305 of their 389 global stores closed in mid-January, Primark, which started out with a pile-them-high store on Dublin’s Mary Street 51 years ago, has continued with their international expansion plans.

They operate in 13 countries and last month they opened their first Chicago store, on North State Street. The 36,000 sq ft store spanning three floors marks the company’s 12th store in the US.

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