'Surge' in online searches for clown gear reported by fancy dress retailer

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A fancy dress retailer says it has seen a "clear surge" in online searches for clown masks and costumes. And, yes, it's most likely in response to the creepy clown craze sweeping Britain.

But Angels Fancy Dress, which has two London stores and trades online as fancydress.com, said it had no plans to withdraw clown costumes.

The retailer argued it was not its responsibility to "withdraw a technically inoffensive item in response to a fad".

Angels spokesman Benjamin Webb said: "We have seen a clear surge in online searches for clown masks and costumes within our site, likely in response to the recent furore.

"Correspondingly, Angels has experienced a slight increase in clown-themed sales when compared to this time last year.

"However, clown costumes - both scary and more traditional versions - have been a Halloween favourite for years, so the popularity of clowns at this time of year should not be attributed to this current craze."

clown
(Peter Byrne/PA)

The "killer clown" craze has seen police forces in the US and Britain called to a string of incidents where pranksters or criminals dress as clowns and try to scare innocent bystanders.

Police forces across the country have been tweeting warnings to anyone dressed as clowns.

Senior officers are warning that the trend, which started in the US, is a waste of police resources and said they would crack down on those causing fear and anxiety to members of the public.

But Webb said he had no plans to withdraw clown costumes from sale.

"Clown costumes are neither religious nor political in nature and are therefore, in themselves, not controversial or provocative.

"I don't think that it is a retailer's responsibility to withdraw a technically inoffensive item in response to a fad.

"We have not received any official guidelines from the authorities to remove clown costumes from our shelves or from our website, though, as a family-focused retailer, should such a request be made, we would act upon it immediately."