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Arcadia collapsed into administration on Monday and shoppers have been unable to use gift cards online since.

The company and its administrators said the card shutdown was a temporary technical issue which would be resolved by early next week.

But they said the cards would only be valid for 50% of a purchase.

That means, for example, only £25 in card value could be redeemed on a £50 order, or someone wanting to use the whole of their £10 gift card would need to spend £20 in total.

The rule is now in place in stores, where gift cards can be used.

Leaving gift ‘wasted’
Administrators for the business are not obliged to accept gift cards but, with stores and websites still trading, many shoppers hoped and expected that they would still be able to use them.

Abi Vedder, 39, from London, received a gift of £100 to spend in Topshop vouchers when she left her job as a social worker two weeks ago.

“Social workers are not rich and it is infuriating that all my colleagues’ money may be wasted, as I would now need to buy something worth £200 to claim the voucher, which I’m not sure I can,” she said.

“I’m worried I won’t be able to get anything to remember my job by now, because I left during this ridiculous year.”

A spokesman for Arcadia’s administrators, Deloitte, said: “The full value of a gift card can be put towards up to 50% of a purchase.

“Gift cards are currently being accepted in all stores and customers will be able to use them online from early next week. There is currently maintenance on the site impacting the use of gift cards. This should be fixed by early next week.”

The company told shoppers: “Gift cards have been temporarily switched off until further notice. I can confirm you are still able to use gift cards in store, you will only be able to apply 50% of the gift card to your purchase.

“Apologies for the inconvenience that has been caused.”

The Arcadia group runs 444 stores in the UK and 22 overseas, and includes the Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, and Burton brands.

The administration will give Arcadia breathing space from creditors, such as landlords for its shops or clothing suppliers, while a buyer is sought for all or parts of the company.

Arcadia executives will still hold day-to-day control over the business.

However, the jobs of the company’s 13,000 employees are at risk.

If no buyer is found and the company folds, then gift cards are likely to be worthless as cardholders would be near the back of a queue of creditors with claims for a payout from any remaining assets that are sold.

Debenhams, which said on Tuesday that it expected to close its doors after the failure to find a buyer for the business, said it was still accepting payment by gift card, but it had not sold any new ones for many months.

Earlier this week, Currys PC World apologised after a website glitch wiped hundreds of pounds off gift cards and left Black Friday bargain hunters without their shopping.