There are scenes of chaos around the country and fears of ‘riots’ as thousands of families queue for Build-A-Bear stores’ ‘Pay Your Age Day’ promotion.
Parents are reporting queues of up to nine hours as stocks run out because of an ‘unprecedented demand’ for the teddy bears, which can sell for up to £50 – but are on offer today for as little as £1.
Stores in Telford, Shropshire, Basingstoke, Hampshire and Sheffield, were forced to shut early amid safety fears.
Anthony, one father who was among around 1,000 other people waiting with their children, said: ‘I don’t know what’s worse, England losing or queuing for a bear.’
Hundreds of people were pictured gathering outside one of the popular stores in The Rock, Bury
One mother filmed ‘utterly insane’ queues as hundreds of eager parents waited in line for the bears – and said she even feared there could be riots
Delighted youngsters pictured with their discount bears at the St Davids shopping centre in Cardiff
Build a Bear, St Davids shopping centre, Cardiff, which is offering people to buy bears at the age they are
Huge queues have formed in Cardiff as eager families wait patiently for one of the popular toys
Children can walk away with a new stuffed toy simply by paying their current age in pounds – instead of the normal retail price, which starts at around £15. All bears are included in the deal which led to a huge surge in demand.
One mother filmed ‘utterly insane’ queues as hundreds of eager parents waited in line for the bears – and said she even feared there could be riots.
Fiona O’Reilly, 31, filmed hundreds already queuing before the shop opened at Newcastle’s Metro Centre
Fiona O’Reilly, 31, from Gateshead, arrived at Newcastle’s Metro Centre at at 8.15am this morning to purchase bears for each of her four children.
She was shocked by the hundreds already queuing before the shop opened at 10am and feared there could be fights as parents argued in the queues.
She said: ‘It was complete madness; I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few riots over this today. I managed to get there early and it took just over an hour for me to get all four bears.
‘However, the queues are starting to get so long, and the store only has four staff making the bears, so I reckon people will be waiting all day. There’s already people fighting in the queues!’
Fiona paid just over £24 for four bears which could have cost more than £200 on a normal day. The video she shared to social media has already racked up 22,000 views in an hour.
One mother, who asked not to be named, told MailOnline she burst into tears as she waited for bears in Bracknell, Berkshire with her 16-month-old and four-year-old.
She said: ‘I got there at 8.50am and there was a queue of around 30 people in front of us. They opened all four doors at the same time and we were being crushed.
‘It was awful and I was so upset I burst into tears.
‘I had to park the pushchair and take my little girl away from it because it was so frightening. I gave up after 40 minutes after being told our wait was at least two hours despite the fact we were nearly at the front.
‘It was so dangerous. My little boy was so scared he just wanted to get out.
‘My friend is at Basingstoke and they said she was five hours away and stopped the queue. The manager told us to pay for our bear and go back another time to get it stuffed.’
Hundreds of customers were turned away from other Build-A-Bear Workshops with sobbing children after the promotion led to nine hour queues and stores selling out.
Queues stretched as far as the eye could see in Cardiff as parents tried to keep their children happy
Dozens of families were pictured waiting outside the store in St Stephen’s Shopping Centre in Hull
The Build a Bear store at St Davids shopping centre in Cardiff, where large queues continue to form outside
At one of its biggest stores at the Bullring Centre in Birmingham, the shop announced on Twitter at 10.50am it had sold out of all stock as large queues continued to form outside.
One mother was refused entrance when she tried to join the queue at the Build A Bear store in Meadowhall, Sheffield, despite arriving before the shop opened.
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She said: ‘We arrived around 9.45am, about 15 minutes before it was due to open. The line was almost full length of one side of the shopping centre.
‘A member of staff told us to go home as we couldn’t join the line and it was up to a nine hour wait for people already waiting.
‘My two year old toddler now can’t get the bear that he was looking forward to.’
The promotional exercise has also seen many families handed £12 vouchers after missing out on getting a cheap bear.
Martin Knott, who was turned away from the store in Solihull at the Touchwood Centre, tweeted: ‘Hundreds of kids now emotionally distressed after they were told they were getting teddies. Thanks for lying for my daughter! This voucher better hold the same offer!’
Mother Rikki said she was refused entrance to the store in Telford. She tweeted: ‘I have a very disappointed two-year-old as the Telford store has stopped people joining the queue with a worker saying it’s closed for health and safety reasons as queue is too long.’
Children can walk away with a new stuffed toy simply by paying their current age in pounds
Mother-of-one one Tilly said she was has been warned of an eight-hour wait at the Build-A-Bear in Warrington, Cheshire, and parents who don’t want to queue are being offered a voucher for a £12 discount to use another day.
And Drake Circus Shopping Centre in Plymouth has warned all parents to stay away if they’re not already queueing.
They tweeted: ‘Due to a high volume of customers for the Build a Bear event, if you have not been allocated a time slot by the store, please refrain from attending the store today. We apologise for any inconvenience.’
Another mother said: ‘We’re maybe 100 from the front. I’d say roughly 500 are queuing. I can’t see how far back it goes anymore now though as it goes up and down several times and is now bent round the other side of The Rock.’
And a huge queuing is spiralling inside Manchester Arndale, which Rebecca Robinson has joined with her daughter Sophia.
She said: ‘I reckon there’s around 1,000 people at least. I got told at Bristol there’s over 2,000 people waiting. They’ve stopped people queuing for now because there are too many.’
Scores of families waiting outside the store in St Stephen’s Shopping Centre in Hull, before it had even opened today
One delighted youngster who waited patiently this morning proudly holds his discount bear aloft
Left, Abi Faroyan and her daughter Lola, three, waited two and a half hours for the Build a Bear offer. Right, Fiona O Reilly’s daughter Charlotte
The entire collection of furry friends is up for grabs, including the popular licensed characters such as Star Wars, Pokemon, My Little Pony, Super Mario, Paw Patrol, Marvel, Shopkins, Disney and more – which led to a huge surge in demand
The entire collection of furry friends is up for grabs, including the popular licensed characters such as Star Wars, Pokemon, My Little Pony, Super Mario, Paw Patrol, Marvel, Shopkins, Disney and more.
A spokesman for the Build-A-Bear Workshop said: ‘The response to our Pay Your Age Day event at all of our UK locations has been overwhelming and unprecedented in our 21-year history, and the safety of our guests and associates is our top priority.
‘The crowds have greatly exceeded our expectations and, per local authorities, queues are at capacity and we cannot accept additional guests due to extreme crowds and safety concerns.
‘We understand our guests are disappointed, and we are working to address the situation. We will reach out directly to our valued guests as soon as possible.’
Have you been stuck in the queues? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 020 361 53729