One of the country’s biggest party supply companies has seen sales of its clown costumes soar – because of the new ‘creepy clown’ craze.
But Peeks said it was monitoring the situation and would pull the stock from sale if things got out of hand.
The craze involves pranksters dressing as the circus performers with the object of scaring people in the street.
It has apparently come over from the US and there have reports of incidents right across the country – including several in Bournemouth.
Some incidents have crossed the line between pranking and law-breaking and at least one arrest has been made.
Peeks, based in Christchurch, Dorset, stocks the costumes as part of its fancy dress range and has seen sales spike.
Nick Peek, Managing Director of Peeks, said: “Sales of clown costumes have gone up in the past few weeks.
“At first we thought it was early Halloween sales, but then we realised that there was a new trend.
“We are monitoring the situation and if it gets out of hand we’ll pull the costumes from sale until things calm down.”
Professor Mark Griffiths, a chartered psychologist at Nottingham Trent University, said clowns tend to be scary because of their exaggerated looks and evil representation in films.
He said: “The vast majority of people are not scared of clowns day-to-day but a clown’s face has become part of a scare culture.
“There is a stereotype of the nasty, evil, eerie clown. If you look at clowns facially what you tend to find is part of their face or feet are exaggerated, they have huge noses, scary mouths and wildfire hair.
“We also have a cinematic trope. If you look at everything from Heath Ledger in Batman to Stephen King’s It, we’ve got these characters with clown faces that are either killing people or doing really nasty things.
“Even if you have not come into contact with clowns, you’re influenced by what you see in television and films.”
Notes to editors:
Peeks provides party and fundraising items and sells them through its mail order catalogue, growing website, and through its giant party store in Christchurch. It was founded by Charles Peek in 1946 and is now run by his grandson, Nick.
For more information please contact Ed Baker at Deep South Media of 01202 534487 or 07788392965.