Thought leadership

The Debenhams website has been overwhelmed by shoppers searching for bargains after the department store chain collapsed. The firm launched a stock clearance sale on Wednesday at 07:00 as non-essential retailers in England reopen after a four-week lockdown.

But high demand sent thousands online, and long, virtual queues. On Tuesday there were reports the site crashed. “We have been seeing unprecedented levels of visits,” a spokesperson said.

In a bid to keep up with the additional demand, the retailer was forced to implement a queuing system for its website, which promised customers: “We will get you onto the site as soon as possible.”

Some social media users reported as many as 900,000 other customers in the queue for the website. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

The company had already been running a 14-day “Black Friday” sales event, with discounts of up to 70% from Wednesday onwards in-store and online across clothes and homeware. For other customers, the website crashed completely on Tuesday evening, either before reaching the virtual queue or having reached the checkout stage for their purchases.

One social media user wrote that they had been given only 30 minutes to complete their shopping online.

“Only problem is once you get in there the homepage keeps crashing. No wonder they’ve gone bust,” they wrote. Twitter user Danielle Harmer said: “Finally get onto the website, start adding to my basket and then an error message pops up saying my queue number has been rejected and I have to join the back of the queue again! Actually livid.”

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