In Brief

Debenhams ‘fire sale’ sparks online shopping frenzy

Hundreds of thousands of bargain hunters stuck in virtual queue on collapsing chain’s website

The Debenhams website has been overwhelmed by customers rushing to bag pre-Christmas bargains following the collapse of the department store chain.

In what Sky News describes as a “horror week for UK retail”, hopes of a last-ditch deal to rescue the 242-year-old firm evaporated yesterday when the last remaining bidder, JD Sports, withdrew its offer just hours after retail rival Arcadia went into administration.

Following the collapse of the talks, Debenhams - which had been in administration since April - has launched “a 70% off pre-Christmas clearance in what’s expected to be the last ever sale across its remaining 124 stores”, says the Daily Mirror.

Shoppers eager to make the most of the discounts have flocked to the chain’s website, forcing the retailer to implement a queuing system due to “exceptional demand”.

And according to the newspaper, the number of bargain hunters stuck in that “virtual queue” reached more than a million yesterday.

“We have been seeing unprecedented levels of visits,” a Debenhams spokesperson confirmed.

Social media users also provided updates after joining the line on the site, with one tweeting: “Figured I might as well go on the Debenhams website for the first time in ten years, and I’m 310,657 in the queue.”

Shoppers are snapping up discounted buys at Debenhams stores too, which like other UK retailers reopened today following the end of the four-week lockdown.

Dubbed “Wild Wednesday”, today “is set to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year as retailers return from lockdown with new 24-hour trading times in a bid to claw back the £900m lost a day as a result of Covid-19 restrictions”, says the Daily Mirror.

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