Lilly nation is feeling grumpy this morning.

Many Lilly Pulitzer fans who stayed up all night to buy pieces from the much-hyped Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection were greeted with website issues on Target.com in the early morning hours. Then they were disheartened when they learned that most items had already sold out online.

And many stores sold out of the collection within minutes of their doors opening at 8 a.m. this morning, leaving many customers who had lined up in Black Friday-like lines empty-handed.

While some rabid fans claimed on social media that the retailer's website crashed, Target spokesman Joshua Thomas said that was not the case. But he said the overwhelming traffic to the site meant that the retailer did have to take steps to manage the site. That included allowing only some customers access to the site at certain times. And at one point, Target did make the site inaccessible for about 15 minutes in order to grapple with the traffic.

“The demand has been extreme," he said. "We know there are guests who are disappointed and we are very, very sorry.”

Target never gives an exact time in advance of when its designer partnership collections will be avaiable online since it's usually a rolling launch as the website updates throughout the early morning hours. Thomas said that while Target had hoped to make the Lilly Pulitzer collection available online by about 3 a.m. CST, it was delayed until 5 a.m. as it grappled with website traffic.

He added that the company had teams working around the clock – both at the Minneapolis headquarters and in Bangalore, India – to help manage the event.

Some Lilly fans were hoping that Target would replenish the products online later in the day. But Thomas said Target has no plans to do so since it was a limited time collaboration with limited product.

The experience is reminiscent of the much-hyped Missoni collaboration with Target back in 2011 when the website crashed. At that time, Target was still finding its legs online after taking charge of its website after having Amazon run it for many years.

But in the last year or so, the retailer has been rebuilding its website from the bottom up and to add greater functionality to it.

Target is not the only retailer to have struggled recently with its website during a major shopping event. Some might recall that Richfield-based Best Buy took its website off line a couple of times on Black Friday as a surge in mobile nearly crashed its site. 

Here's how the night played out. Some items first became available throught the Target mobile site. So around midnight, rabid Lilly fans began tweeting out the links to others. Some customers appear to have been able to snag some items that way for a brief time.

But around 3 a.m., Target began notifying customers via Twitter that it was working on its website due to the heavy demand.

At one point, Jason Goldberger, president of Target.com, tweeted out updates to customers.

But Lilly fans were not mollified and were pretty vocal in their disappointment.

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