Target, McDonald's react to US clown sightings
TWO of America's biggest commercial brands - discount retailer Target and fast-food chain McDonald's - have taken steps to tamp down hysteria stemming from a recent spate of creepy clown sightings in the run-up to Halloween at the end of this month.
Target decided last week to winnow down its assortment of clown masks and costumes available for sale in US stores and online "given the current environment", company spokesman Joshua Thomas said on Monday.
Although Target received some isolated consumer comments about scary clown accessories, the decision to pull some masks from inventories stemmed from "a conversation internally about how we can respond to the situation at hand".
The clown-mask culling, limited to one in-store product item and about 10 selections online, affected a "very tiny" portion of Target's overall Halloween merchandise, Mr Thomas added.
Target said those kept in stock reflected a more traditional, less threatening image of happy, cheerful clowns.
Similarly, McDonald's and its franchise owners have cut back in the number of public appearances made by performers dressed up as the chain's trademark hamburger-happy clown Ronald McDonald during the past two weeks, according to the company.
Reports of menacing individuals dressed as clowns or wearing clown masks began surfacing in late August around Greenville, South Carolina.
They have since spread to several other states, perplexing police and unnerving parents across the country.
Clowns have been reported spotted lurking near wooded areas or on dark roads, and even driving in cars, some brandishing knives or waving wads of money at children.
The phenomenon has created a stir on social media.