M&S apologises after experiencing hours-long outage

Marks and Spencer customers were left unable to access the retailer's website and app for several hours on Saturday due to a technical issue.

The problems began around lunchtime, with users greeted by an error message on the homepage and no ability to navigate the site.

Normal service was restored by 6:15pm BST, with a spokeswoman for M&S confirming that an issue with a third-party provider had "temporarily affected access" and apologised to customers for the inconvenience caused.

During the outage, reports surfaced on social media of customers being unable to use the retailer's Sparks loyalty scheme through the app or website. Some claimed they had missed out on potential savings without access to a physical Sparks card.

The website initially came back online after 5pm, but reverted to displaying the error message shortly after, before being fully restored prior to 6pm. The app continued showing a technical glitch notice for a brief period after the website was operational again.

While M&S stated the cause was a third-party issue, the company provided no further details on the nature of the problem or the identity of the external provider involved. The disruption mirrored a similar incident in March when supermarket Sainsbury's faced technical difficulties that prevented most online grocery orders from being processed after an overnight update caused failures with contactless payments.

Although temporary, such outages underscore the reliance many retailers now have on robust digital platforms and third-party services to power their websites and apps amid the continuing shift towards online shopping. For major brands like Marks and Spencer, any extended inability to serve customers through digital channels can quickly prove costly.

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