AMONG the otherwise quiet atmosphere of early Saturday morning in Festival Place, dozens of keen shoppers queued outside Debenhams in Basingstoke this morning (May 15) for the last time ever.

Shoppers of all ages stood in line, awaiting the doors opening at 10am. By the time they did, the queue had looped round to avoid the rainy outdoors.

And at 5.30pm this evening, Debenhams will shut its door for the final time.

The iconic department store opened in the town in 2002 and is a popular go-to destination, in particular for clothing, shoes, homeware and gifts.

However, the 240-year-old company has struggled to keep its head above the water in an increasingly online industry, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, and announced in late 2020 that it had gone into liquidation.

Its online brand will live on, bought by fashion retailer Boohoo, but for store's including the three-story Festival Place flagship, today is the end of the road.

The closure comes after a nearly five-week closing down sale, which has seen the shop empty its shelves at cut prices.

For those standing in line this morning, it was a mixture of curiosity, nostalgia, and love of a bargain that drew them in.

Nicole Hotston, 30, and her family from Winklebury are expecting a new addition and hoping to find some bargain baby things.

“I think it’s quite sad,” she said, about the closure. “I’ve been coming here with my family since I was my son’s age.”

59-year-old Wendy Gill from Newbury added: "It's my definite favourite shop, I get everything from here.

"At Christmas time, I used to love coming in here and buying games and jigsaw puzzles, perfume and aftershave."