The Student Lock-in – worth the hassle?

Student lock-ins are shopping events held frequently around Birmingham – enticing all students in the city to squander their student loans by taking advantage of big discounts and offers. Shopping on a Saturday, in the Birmingham Bullring, is for most, as enjoyable as attending a 9am seminar with a hangover. I discovered that student lock-in events can be a similar experience.

Lock-ins tend to run outside of day-to-day shopping hours (usually between 6pm and 10pm) and involve the big-name chains such as River Island, H&M and Topshop; offering out-of-the-ordinary discounts for students.

But here’s the catch (well, one of them) – it is key to sign up online for these events, which involves a tedious online form. Then, upon arrival at the Bullring, there is a queue to pick up your confirmation of registration before you can actually start shopping. This whole routine is what one might call – for want of a better word – a ‘faff’.

Granted, if you are willing to go through the motions, lock-ins can be brilliant when it comes to finding bargains. For example, Forever 21 – a huge high street store exclusive to Birmingham and London in the UK – has, on several occasions, offered a huge 21% discount for students. So, if one had seen something in there prior to the event but couldn’t justify paying full price, these sort of events can make buying a treat less of a blow to the student purse or wallet.

However, with some of the shops (Mango for example), there is a further requirement – having a standard University ID Card is not enough. For a few of them, you’ll need an NUS card – so it is a good idea to check the small print before setting your heart on something.

The main thing that personally turns me off is the sheer amount of people. Topshop during a lock-in can get pretty claustrophobic, and if you’re more of a ‘browser’ the packed shops are not ideal. In addition to this, it’s near impossible to try anything on as the queues become ridiculous. 

On the other hand, lock-ins can be a great way to socialise – making a refreshing change to a night out. And for some, a lock-in may prove to be a cheaper alternative! As well as the shopping perks, a lot of food chains also offer deals during these events – big names such as The Homemade Burger Co. usually make an appearance on the list. So it does provide a cheap meal out for a group of housemates who don’t fancy 9p noodles for the 4th night running.

Lock-ins can be fun. But if you are looking for an easy amble around the shops then you’re better off going on a weekday. If, on the contrary, you are a ruthless bargain-hunter with your eye on the prize, you could find a real gem. Or a pair of gems.

 Megan Evans

@mkevans92

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