/ Shopping

Unbearable queues: do you go wild for promos?

A discount teddy deal was abandoned this week after thousands of shoppers were left queueing for up to eight hours amid chaotic scenes. Do you go mad for special offers?

The Build-a-Bear Workshop caused pandemonium on UK high streets on Thursday, telling shoppers they could buy a teddy bear, which can normally cost up to £52, for the price of their child’s age.

Queues of up to a mile long were reported outside some outlets, some closed prematurely due to the massive demand and the police were even called to one shop in Leeds.

A shopper in Leeds, Paul Shaw, told the BBC he saw “crazy scenes at the White Rose – Build-A-Bear is in chaos.” Continuing:

“Queuing from the store, all the way outside, approximately five-hour queue. There are even police here trying to keep the peace.”

The promotion was so popular that the company had to release a public statement asking customers to avoid making a trip to their shops. “The crowds have greatly exceeded our expectations… and we cannot accept additional guests,” the company said.

Outrageous offers

It’s not been long since similarly chaotic scenes gripped French supermarkets when Nutella announced a 70% discount on its chocolate spread.

The shopping frenzy in January, branded the ‘Nutella riots’ by some, saw the product’s price slashed from €4.50 to €1.40 – and led to violence in some supermarkets as shoppers jostled to get their hands on the spread.

And not to forget Black Friday in the UK, which has often in the past descended into fighting over greatly discounted products.

Given they often lead to frenzied over-demand while supply is limited – hence the massive queues and sometimes violence – are these types of super-discounts fair on consumers?

Do you feel companies should do more to consider the implications of mass queuing when it comes to heavily discounted offers? Have you ever been swept up in promotional pandemonium?

Phil says:
13 July 2018

” Do you go mad for special offers? ”

No. I’d rather go somewhere else and pay more than waste hours in a queue.

I quite often go mad, but not for specially offers.

I do like special offers when they help reduce the costs of something that I need.

I steer clear of shops when sales are on. By avoiding buying what I probably don’t need I reckon that I save money.

If they can sell a £52 teddy for £1, it does show what sort of a rip-off they are at normal price.

Parents queueing with young children for up to 8 hours should be done for child cruelty.

If they are made to queue for long enough, the price will go up.

Old teddies seem to go for large sums of money, whoever made them and whatever their condition, if the BBC’s “Bargain Hunt” is anything to go by. Like tin globes do as well.

They could have had a ballot and issued redeemable vouchers to the winners for the number of teddy bears they had in stock but this was clearly a marketing [not a loyalty] exercise and driven by the need to increase footfall and lead to additional sales.

It has not been reported whether each shop had an allocation or could merely sell out their stock, but either way they were not interested in counting the queuing customers and stopping the queue at the upper limit. For a ‘child friendly’ retailer this was not at all well-handled as it was bound to disappoint a large number of children in the worst possible way. The company also did not give much consideration to their staff who, if the promotion had not been cancelled, would have had the unenviable task of telling prospective customers that the supply had just run out and they wouldn’t be getting a cheap teddy bear. I suppose they just pulled down the shutters and left people to disperse. It looks like the company didn’t really have a clue how to manage this operation – were they expecting customers to just drift in one at a time over the course of a few days?

This failure must be causing reputational damage but it shows the overwhelming power of the cuddly toy in this digital age.

I should not be surprised to see Administrators or Liquidators getting out their clipboards in due course and then another hole in the high street.

A bit like a Which? campaign overwhelming Convos.

Which? campaigns have good intentions but they certainly need a different channel for responses; either that or a filter to remove repetitive or identical comments.

I think that there should be mandatory fines for outlets that do not give due consideration to the problems that arise form idiotic offers. Whilst a monetary fine would be fun I am rather persuaded that ALL Build-a-bear HQ staff are required to report to a small understaffed office in Grantham to give their version of the day and why it was a good idea. : )

I am astonished by the poor quality of the management but in part this is an American company plan so not totally UK driven.

As for the child abuse angle that is an excellent thought and I believe the shopping malls will have the relevant tapes for the NSPCC.