On the eve of Australia's biggest national online shopping event, David Jones has announced it is staging a rival one-day sale of its own.
However, its new website, which was launched just two weeks ago, was already hit with technical problems this morning.
A David Jones spokeswoman confirmed there was a “technical glitch” on the website that excluded shoppers from some promotions.
She denied that the problem was related to increased traffic flows, and said all parts of the site were now working.
“Even if the site is busy, it’s designed in a way that will manage peak times,” she said. “In many ways, this will be the first real test for our website."
The department store, which has been criticised for being too slow to embrace online shopping, was an obvious omission from a list of major retailers, including Myer, Target and Dick Smith, taking part in Click Frenzy which begins at 7pm on Tuesday night.
Instead, on Monday afternoon it announced it would hold a rival sale, which will run in store from 9.30am until 10pm and online from 6am until midnight. It is no coincidence the event, with discounts of up to 40 per cent, is called Christmas Frenzy.
''Given people will be on the lookout for bargains tomorrow, we felt we should have an offer of our own,'' a David Jones spokeswoman said.
She said while it was not unusual for the department store to have a sales event in November, she admitted this sale was timed to coincide with ''competition activity''.
The announcement comes as the organiser of Click Frenzy warned participating retailers to be prepared for greater than expected traffic. Grant Arnott said a last-minute surge in pre-registrations - of 20,000 to 30,000 a day for the past week - meant he was now expecting well over a million shoppers to take part in the 24-hour event.
He has been forced to upgrade the Click Frenzy website to ensure it can cope with the volume of traffic and is urging retailers to do the same.
''We've been working closely with our infrastructure company and we've been assured that the site will hold up,'' he said. ''We're also passing the message on to our retailers that we're revising up our traffic projections significantly.''
The sale comes as Australia's biggest retailers confirm that prices for hundreds of products, from clothing to cosmetics, have dropped by as much as 50 per cent in recent years due to greater global price transparency brought about by a boom in online shopping.
While Australian shoppers remain disgruntled about the price gap that often exists between local and overseas stores, they are paying much less for many brands than they were a year ago.
Myer, David Jones, JB Hi-Fi and online cosmetics retailer Adore Beauty are among hundreds of retailers that have negotiated with suppliers to lower wholesale prices so they can compete with overseas websites, while minimising the impact on margins.
''The growth in online has brought transparency not just to consumers but to us as retailers,'' says David Jones' Donna Player. ''That has given us greater ability to go back and negotiate with suppliers.''
with Georgia Wilkins