The House of Fraser in Reading will close today after more than 24 years in business.

The department store, a huge part of the Oracle shopping centre, will close its doors this afternoon ending more than two decades. 

When the Chronicle visited the store earlier this morning (Saturday), the mood was sombre and the shelves were bare.

There were no queues outside when the shutters went up as the huge multi-storey shop was largely empty, save for a few areas of stock left to shift.

Huge swathes of the branch are entirely vacant with discounts of up to 70 per cent on certain lines being offered. 

A handful of shoppers were seen perusing the aisles for some last-minute buys.

Check back to read the Chronicle’s full write up of the branch’s final moments later this evening. 

House of Fraser Reading first opened along with the Oracle as one of its flagship stores in 1999.

It has been a significant presence in the shopping centre since, employing hundreds of people over time, many people offering them their first jobs, and holding many memories for shoppers in the town and somewhere youngsters first got into make up or bought their first expensive purchase.

The branch has weathered many financial storms and when the company closed its department stores in other major cities and towns, Reading’s shop survived. 

House of Fraser was saved from collapse by billionaire businessman Mike Ashley back in 2018.

But while the deal saved the chain's 59 stores and 17,000 workers who were facing the axe, a number of its stores have closed in recent years.

There are believed to be just 30 branches left after its store in Solihull  closed on August 28 and Guildford shut on Saturday, September 30.

Some retailers have been struggling since the pandemic while shoppers are cutting back on spending due to soaring inflation.

High energy costs and a shift to shopping online after the pandemic are also taking a toll and many high street shops have struggled to keep going.

Experts say that physical brick and mortar stores have also seen a lack of footfall due to consumer habits switching to online shopping.