A teddy bear offer has been abandoned amid “safety concerns” after it sparked chaos in shopping centres across the UK.
Build-A-Bear launched its first ever “pay your age day”, with parents able to buy a teddy costing their child’s age in pounds.
Police had to be called to the White Rose Centre, Leeds, after a queue of “around a mile long” caused unrest, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported.
Paul Shaw, who was at the shopping centre, posted on Facebook: “Crazy scenes at the White Rose… Build-A-Bear is in chaos.
“Queuing from the store, all the way outside, approximately five-hour queue, no guarantee of even getting one.
“Security are going mental and there are even police here trying to keep the peace.”
Day 14 in the Build a Bear queue: Mums are starting to turn. The only currency is queue spots. Julie from York sold her spot for a reported £50k. Dave the security guy hasn’t slept in 4 days. The end is nigh.. pic.twitter.com/5EiLVp5Sry
— John-Luke (@JohnLuke_PW) July 12, 2018
A shopper at the Meadowhall centre in Sheffield claimed Build-A-Bear told her to expect a “nine-hour wait” because of the length of the queue.
Kirsty L McNeil wrote on Facebook: “Build a bear queue is insane at Meadowhall.
“They’ve capped it at a predicted nine-hour wait.”
Image: A huge queue formed at 8am in West Lothian, Scotland. Pic: Greg Robertson
She added: “(They are) handing out £12 off vouchers instead.”
The offer was abandoned early at the St David’s centre in Cardiff and the McArthurGlen outlet in Bridgend, according to local media.
Hundreds of people reportedly formed the queues that started building from early in the morning.
Image: Hundreds of people joined queues at stores around the world. Pic: Amanda Spriggs
Hannah Dyer told Wales Online: “I didn’t think it was very clear online this could happen.
“We told our little one he would be getting a bear today.
“I feel sorry the the guy who has to give out the bad news to everyone.
“I think they should have realised it was going to be this busy, and honour the same deal tomorrow.”
Natalie Cross and her husband Anthony arrived at The Rock centre in Bury, Manchester, at 8.45am, only to find a queue had already formed.
Customers were later told to expect a four-hour wait to have the chance to buy a bear, Manchester Evening News reports.
Mrs Cross told the paper: “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.”
It is not clear if every Build-A-Bear store in the UK has had to abandon the offer.
A spokeswoman from the firm would only tell Sky News that “all of our UK locations” have experienced an “overwhelming and unprecendent response”.
She said: “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.
Image: Amanda Spriggs, who took these pictures, described it as ‘a new circle of hell’
“We will reach out directly to our valued guests as soon as possible.”
Huge queues also built up at Build-A-Bear branches abroad which also offered the deal, with Canadian shopper Amanda Spriggs describing it as a “new circle of hell”.
More from UK
Teddy bears on the Build-A-Bear website are typically on sale for between £10 and £20, while some costing up to £45.
Parents are said to have had to join a bonus reward scheme to be eligible for the “pay your age” offer.