PARENTS desperate to get their hands on cut-price toy bears were left queueing for up to five hours with their young children at Churchill Square today.

A special offer at Build-A-Bear Workshop meant stuffed animals that normally cost up to £52 were being heavily reduced in price – with parents able to pay the equivalent of their child’s age in pounds.

But families were left disappointed when the company ran out of bears and stopped the “pay your age” offer.

The company had similar problems at branches up and down the country and said the response to the offer had been “overwhelming and unprecedented”.

Siobhan Drew, 31, from Brighton, visited the store at midday to see queues passing the Apple store and winding round to Fossil.

“My three-year-old son’s autistic so I couldn’t bring him to the store. I wanted to get him a monkey, my mum has one and she calls it the ‘cuddle monkey’. It’s such a shame.”

When she returned at 3pm with her son, she was told the offer was no longer available and was given a voucher for £12 off a selection of bears.

“I think their shelves are bare now,” she said.

“I saw one woman who turned up and complained that nothing had been posted on the website to warn people that the offer was no longer available.”

Tristan Nardella drove for more than an hour in traffic from Lancing with his two-year-old son, Arthur, to take advantage of the offer.

“I got here at 2.15pm, I went and spoke directly to them and they just said they’d stopped doing the offer. They started taking all the signs down and everything. He’s upset now.”

Danielle Jamieson, 23, from Brighton queued for five hours from 9am with her one-year-old child and 65-year-old mother.

She described the scenes outside the store, with Churchill Shopping Centre security guards patrolling the queue to prevent people pushing in.

“The staff have been amazing but the people trying to push in the queue have been the issue all day. They haven’t let any of them in.”

She described her friends having to join three separate queues to get in the shop, get the bears stuffed and then to pay.

Despite the long wait, Danielle remained in good spirits after her £1 purchase.

“It’s nice seeing their faces afterwards, it’s been worthwhile.”

Elaine Harman who runs My First Friends nursery went with four children aged between two and three, two of whom had special needs, and they were left empty handed.

She said: “The whole experience was very chaotic.”