Parents shell out over the odds for hard-to-get Hatchimals
Thousands of children who have put all their eggs in the one basket are set to be disappointed this Christmas as the season's must-have toy is sold out everywhere.
Hatchimals - the robotic eggs which hatch penguin-like birds - first hit the shelves in October, but within weeks consumers were struggling to lay their hands on the toys.
According to Stock Informer, a website linked to major UK retailers that allows shoppers to easily monitor stock levels with a simple click, the only place to get the item is on eBay, but parents should expect to pay significantly more than the recommended retail price of £59.99.
Hairdresser Lynn Robinson, who lives in Cloughey, took to eBay on Monday in a desperate bid to nab the toy - shelling out £97.
She told the Belfast Telegraph: "My daughter Anna-Rose is seven years old.
"She asked for a Hatchimal on Monday and I knew straight away it was going to be a nightmare.
"They were sold out everywhere, so I had no option but to pay more on eBay."
Lynn is just one of many parents who are flocking online and forking out well above the odds for the toy.
"I think it's ridiculous that people get away with doing it, but this is the only present that my daughter has actually asked for and I didn't want to disappoint her," she explained.
The eager-to-please mum could have paid a lot more, with one seller on eBay offering a buy-it-now price of £472.
Stock Informer founder Mike Green told the Belfast Telegraph that he has seen retailers replenish stock by the thousands, only to sell out within hours.
"I have never seen such intense demand for a product so lacking in supply," he said.
Mr Green believes it's simply a case of the toymaker underestimating the popularity of its own product.
"The manufacturer got it wrong," he said.
"Planning products for Christmas starts around June, that's when estimates are made and numbers are decided. They simply didn't expect the demand that there is for the product."
Toys R Us and Argos are among leading high street retailers who have seen unprecedented demand for the fluffy toys.
Both have sold out and it's unlikely they will have more stock before Christmas, but they are urging customers to keep checking.
The Christmas craze has resulted in many distraught parents drafting letters from Santa offering excuses as to why he didn't have it in his sack.
A spokesman for Spin Master admitted that demand for Hatchimals had "exceeded all expectations", and said the company opposed inflated prices from non-authorised sellers.
In a statement the toymaker confirmed: "A whole new batch of Hatchimals will be ready to hatch in early 2017.
"In the meantime, we have created an online resource centre at Hatchimals.com/NorthPole to help kids and their parents during the wait."