What Hello Kitty craze? Online sales kill in-store McDonald’s queues

Riot… what riot?

Sales for the limited edition, 40th anniversary new series of Hello Kitty plush toys at McDonald’s outlets in Singapore went public at 11am on Monday, but there was none of the ugly back-scratching and fist-fighting fever that characterized sales promotions in earlier years.

Checks by Yahoo Singapore at several outlets in Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh Central, Bishan Junction 8, Lucky Plaza and Marine Parade showed nary a queue or cat meow on Monday morning. At the Toa Payoh store, the first customer, a lady who only wanted to be know as Ms Lau, only stepped into line at 930am.

“I only wanted the first and fourth (Hello Kitty toys) one so I didn’t buy the whole set online, although I did try on Saturday and couldn’t, not sure why,” said Ms Lau, who started queuing outside the restaurant after she knocked off from the graveyard shift at work.

At an outlet in Marine Parade, a line of roughly eight to 10 people formed by about 10:45am, with the second person telling Yahoo Singapore that she had joined the queue half an hour before then.







See more pictures of the various outlets Yahoo Singapore visited on Monday morning:

The reason for the major no-show?

Online sales for the entire collector’s set of Hello Kitty Bubbly World plushies went on sale at 11am last Wednesday, when excessive traffic pushed McDonald’s to suspend sales that day, much to the ire of eager customers. They were reopened in the evening, though, and sales online continue.

This is in stark contrast to previous mad rushes for the Hello Kitty plush toys. In 2000, tens of thousands of people swarmed outlets to get their hands on the mouthless mascot kitten, which was paired in the promotion with her boyfriend Daniel. Customers threatened store managers, school children skipped class and fist fights broke out among customers.



Even the then-Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had to step in, saying "We should not get too carried away. Even if you want the Kitty, there is no need to fight fiercely to try and get one."

Last year, things again got out of hand when McDonald's rolled out a "Fairy Tales" Hello Kitty set. Queue jumping and mass hoarding again sparked heated arguments, prompting the fast food giant to write an open letter apologising for the chaos and promising to do better next time.
 
And so it has, going digital to solve the problem of snaking long lines of frustrated and impatient customers.

However, customers who wish to purchase individual toys will still need to queue though, as they are not available for sale individually online.

Each customer is entitled to purchase up to four plushies, and are allowed to pledge their accompanying Extra Value Meals to charity if they do not wish to consume them — a measure the outlet implemented on Friday to prevent food wastage.