Britain is feared to be facing the return of the killer clown craze this Halloween.
The country has been rocked by the disturbing trend in recent years.
Sightings of the terrifying ghouls have sent shivers down the spines of millions of parents.
Warnings were raised last year the UK could face a fresh wave of them after the release of the film IT Chapter Two.
The horror movie, based on the Stephen King novel, features evil clown Pennywise.
And it looks like the phenomenon could return once again this year.
Figures show searches for Pennywise costumes are soaring ahead of October 31.
Experts have attributed the surge to the lack of new films this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Online marketplace eBay saw a staggering 698% rise in searches for the outfit last month, compared to August.
Although trick or treating could be curtailed by social distancing rules, the company saw one search per minute for Halloween costumes in September.
UK toy retailer Bargain Max has also reported huge interest in Pennywise.
The firm predicts the twisted clown character will be the second most popular costume this Halloween.
Marketing chief Daniel Mckay said: "Interest in Pennywise costumes is strong and we believe this is largely down to the fact that no new movies have been released recently due to the ongoing world events.
“With that, many people are looking at the best costume ideas from last year's spooky films.
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“Pennywise is right up there, and it's no great surprise because the iconic creepy clown holding his balloon leaves you feeling haunted for weeks.”
Jemma Tadd, head of fashion at eBay, added: “We can see that this year’s main source of inspiration are characters from iconic movies and more recent Netflix hits.”
The killer clown craze initially took off in 2016 but re-emerged last year.
Two young children were reportedly chased by a knife-wielding clown in south east London in September 2019.
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And police were called after children were seen being chased through a forest by a clown that looked like Pennywise in Sandhurst, Berkshire the following month, SurreyLive reported.
Meanwhile, a grandmother recently discovered a clown costume being sold in TK Maxx with a bloodied toy meat cleaver.
Cherie Hinchcliffe, 49, said she found the ‘Red Creepy Clown Costume’ in Huddersfield, West Yorks.
She told YorkshireLive she was "absolutely gobsmacked”, adding: “It was really, really inappropriate.
"Should we as a society be giving young children knives with blood on?
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“They could then begin to think that it's normal.
"If children are looking through the costumes that normalises it too.”
Top criminologist Professor David Wilson, of Birmingham City University, warned last year IT Chapter Two could trigger a return of the craze.
He told the Daily Star: “People are behaving in this way to have an impact, to have power, to be a centre of attention.
“They do so to scare and intimidate. It's quite narcissistic.
“What we have seen is that this is a phenomenon."
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