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Retailers struggle to keep up with Christmas demand

Some of the UK’s biggest retailers have been struggling to keep up with the surge of orders over the past couple of weeks, with Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Shop Direct among those warning customers of delays to online deliveries.

Online sales on Black Friday (November 28) outstripped those of any other discount day this year so far, including Cyber Monday on December 1 and so-called Manic Monday on December 8. According to data collection by online retail association IMRG and Experian, £810m was spent on Black Friday, £720m on Cyber Monday and £666m on Manic Monday.

Last Sunday, M&S revealed it had to delay deliveries of online orders by up to two weeks and withdraw next-day click-and-collect services after a spike in demand caused by its ‘Four Magical Days’ promotional event, which started on Black Friday.

The retailer admitted its 900,000 sq ft Castle Donington distribution centre was struggling to process the high volume of orders made during the event, although it would not say how many orders had been received.

Next-day delivery-to-home services were still available, but it said standard deliveries, which normally take from three to five days, could take up to 10 working days.

“We have extended our delivery options as we work through the volume created through the promotion,” confirmed a spokesman on Monday.

He continued: “The vast majority of orders are delivered on time. If we do miss a delivery date, we will do all we can to rectify it for the customer.”

River Island, Amazon and Debenhams also warned of delays at the beginning of the week, although Debenhams and Amazon assured Drapers it was only a temporary issue that had been quickly rectified. Shop Direct said it had extended its delivery service in anticipation of the demand from Black Friday, and said it expected to go back to 24-hour delivery this week.

A Debenhams spokeswoman said: “While there have been minor delays on a very limited number of standard deliveries, these are now back to normal, and all of our other delivery services – including next-day-to-home and next-day click-and-collect – have been operating as usual throughout.”

The department store offered promotions such as 50% off women’s designer dresses and men’s formal shirts on Black Friday.

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