By Lauren Paxman

Change in style: This Zara dress was a lot shorter than the ones Catherine usually wears - but still just as popular

Every time the Duchess of Cambridge steps out in a dress she bought on the High Street there must be a small surge in internet traffic - for within hours, the frock has sold out online... in every size.

Zara's £69.99 black and nude lace dress, which Catherine wore to a charity concert on Tuesday evening, is the latest to have disappeared off the shelves.

The tulip-shaped mini-dress was considered a controversial choice for the 29-year-old because it is so much shorter than the skirts she usually wears.

But she obviously wore it well. In London, many Zara stores had sold out of the dress - which only went on sale a week ago - by lunch time.

The frock is still available in a handful of stores nationwide, but it is already impossible to buy online - unless you want to pay through the nose for it on eBay.

The UK, Canada and U.S. Zara sites have all sold out. But some who rushed to buy lace dress yesterday are already selling it on the auction site for up to £220.

You can also pick up expensive versions of other High Street dresses Catherine has worn, which sold out just as fast.

The Duchess' influence on high street purchases has even been given its own name: The Kate Effect.

Not available: The dress sold out on the Zara website within hours in all sizes

... but it is still available on eBay - for more than double the price

It all started with a Topshop tunic dress Kate wore on her 25th birthday in 2007.
Following huge press coverage on the day, the dress sold out in 24 hours.

Kate and William's engagement photos bolstered the trend for high street sell-outs. The white Nanette Reiss dress worn by the the bride-to-be caused shopping-related hysteria.

At one stage, the £159 dress was selling at a rate of one per minute online. The high street chain re-released it in February this year, but only in the U.S.

The store's owner, David Reiss said at the time: ‘We have been inundated with press coverage.' But the craziness was just beginning for the brand.

When The Duchess wore another Reiss dress, the Shola, to meet the Obamas, that dress sold out even more quickly.

Working her magic: Reiss' Nanette dress, left, and Zara's cornflower blue dress also sold out within hours, the Nanette was later re-released in the U.S.

As soon as pictures of the Duchess appeared online, the British retailer said they were shifting the £175 pale camel bandage dress at a rate of one a minute. Traffic to its website soared by 500 per cent before it crashed.

Since it sold out, versions of the dress have been selling for as much as $1,000 on eBay. Traffic to the Reiss website has remained boosted by around 200 per cent.

This is not the first time Zara has experienced the Kate Effect either.

The day after her wedding, Catherine wore a £49.99 cornflower blue dress. It too sold out within 24 hours.

Whistles has also benefited, with their £95 cream pleated dress - which the Duchess wore in Los Angeles to visit the Inner City Arts Academy in Los Angeles. It attracted a lot of new custom to the store - even though the dress had been purchased three years before and was not on sale any more.

More high street sell-outs: The Reiss Shola dress (left), a Whistles skirt (centre) and a Topshop tunic dress

Kate doesn't even have to wear something for it to sell out.

When she made an impromptu trip to Kensington's Topshop in September, the chain's cobalt-blue velvet trim boucle jacket (£65) and teal spotted pencil skirt (£38) she was spotted buying by a keen fan immediately sold out - even though the Duchess has not worn them in public yet.

Her draw is so strong that shops have started naming items after the young royal too. Whistles have a ‘Kate’ blouse, and LK Bennett's wedges - which Catherine has often worn - have also become the ‘Kate’ shoe.

The Duchess' effect on high street sales has led one newspaper to calculate that she will fuel a £2 billion bonanza for Britain’s economy.

By royal appointment: Topshop's cobalt-blue velvet trim boucle jacket (£65) and teal spotted pencil skirt (£38) both sold out even though Catherine has never worn them in public

Dr Harold Goodwin, a professor of tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University, even said: 'I wouldn’t be surprised if Kate Middleton’s legacy is bigger than that of the Olympics, domestically and internationally.'

Her sister, Pippa, has also been doing her bit.

The Modalu ‘Bristol’ bag which often hangs from her arm has been renamed the ‘Pippa’, while John Lewis attributes Kate's sister with helping them to ‘ride out the high-street doldrums’ by inspiring a trend for long, flowing dresses.

Debenhams has even credited the sisters with a rise in the sales of fake tan.

With more frequent public engagements planned for the Duchess in the new year - once she has chosen the charities she wishes to support - high street bosses must be stocking up on respectable looking dresses that would suit the Duchess - and now slightly shorter ones that show off a bit of thigh.

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