I LOVE a bargain as much as the next shopper – so a giant new Primark was music to my ears, if not to my aching feet by the end of the day.
I was treated to a sneak peek around the high street retailer’s biggest EVER store before the five-floor Birmingham behemoth opened its doors to customers for the first time today.
And what better way to start than with a Mickey Mouse-shaped waffle in the Disney-themed cafe on the shop’s top floor.
With a further two cafes, a hairdresser’s, nail bar, eye-brow grooming, a barber’s and a coffee shop, this superstore can become its own theme park.
I needed the sugar-kick from my waffle to power me around the shop’s 160,000 square feet.
The café is conveniently located alongside shelves and rails of official Disney merchandise, and you can pick up a kid’s costume of decent quality for £15 — although unfortunately not in my size.
Womenswear takes up three floors, with everything from neon bikinis and pyjamas, to “100% Brummie” T-shirts for £4 shamelessly targeting the hearts and wallets of locals.
Loaded up with a basket full of bits that caught my eye, I head to the changing rooms — usually the part of shopping I hate most.
But these are not just any old cramped booths — two giant ones have been kitted out with sofas and shoppers can play their own music using Bluetooth, control the lighting and show off their outfits to friends.
All well and good while the shop is empty, but I can imagine the chaos once the shop is full — which is why bosses are considering time limits to prevent hoggers.
Next I stop off at the customisation station, where customers can instantly print T-shirts and tote bags with Disney characters. Bags are £4, kids tees £6 and adult £8.
The Irish chain boasts that 35 per cent of Brits own its clothes — and its latest venture bucks a trend that has seen latest casualty Debenhams say it may soon close 50 stores.
Traipsing around the store’s many floors leaves me worn out, so I head to The Mezz café for a £4.25 pizza lunch and a much-needed sit-down.
From there, it is on to the menswear floor, where extras include a Mills barbers and yet another coffee shop.
If I had a bloke, I’d drop him off here so I could then shop in peace. At the barber’s, blokes can get a £9 haircut, £20 luxury beard trim or £14 facial.
But by now I feel like I have not seen daylight for hours, my feet are killing me and the bright shop lights are giving me a headache — so time for a spot of TLC.
There is a vast beauty hub by London-based salon Duck & Dry, which has a hair salon, eyebrow preening and nail bar. Threading is a bargain at £6.
A basic blow- dry is just £17, compared to the £30 Duck & Dry charges in its regular salons, and you can get an express mani using Primark’s own £1 nail varnishes for a tenner.
I was in need of some sugar to help eventually fuel my way home and stopped for a doughnut at the Primarket Café — where for £3 staff will spray paint them from a choice of colours.
Well, I somehow had to balance out the 4,000 steps I’d clocked up.
I should have left a trail of bread or doughnut crumbs to find my way out.
As I finally emerge dazed and blinking into the sunlight and fresh air, all I can think is that I dread to see what the shiny new shop will be like crammed full of sharp-elbowed people at lunchtime on a Saturday.
Good luck, Birmingham.