A cuddly toy promotion descended into chaos today after parents were forced to queue for up to nine hours for the chance to grab a stuffed teddy bear for as little as £1.
Build-A-Bear decided to run the ‘Pay Your Age Day’ event by asking parents to sign up online and head down to their nearest store in the hope for a bargain toy.
However, parents claimed their children were left in tears after being turned away from busy stores – with one being closed after a worker was assaulted by an angry customer.
Hordes of mums with pushchairs and screaming kids were spotted at the York Designer Outlet and Leeds’ White Rose Centre in West Yorkshire in five-hour-long queues this afternoon.
Some had started queuing at 7.30am in the hope of bagging a bargain.
The unprecedented amount of customers was deemed a safety hazard and the stores had to turn people away.
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The toys usually retail between £25 and £30 depending on style and extras – but mums with newborns could bag a toy today for just £1.
One unhappy mum who was told she couldn’t join the queue in York due to the high demand said she was disappointed at being turned away.
Deborah Smyth, of Malton, North Yorks., said: ‘I just couldn’t believe it – I didn’t come this morning because I thought it would be too busy but now I wish I had.’
Deborah, who had taken her month-old newborn tot Elsie to the shop, added: ‘I just thought it would be something good to do and save some money.
‘But I’ve seen kids who should be in school with their mums queuing up to get a toy – I think it’s wrong.’
A Build-A-Bear spokesperson said on Facebook: ‘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.
‘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.’