Toy crazes come and go, but one toy shop chief has called the latest playground activity involving small elastic bands ‘an epidemic’.
Loom Bands are proving popular with boys and girls from as young as four. They weave them together making bracelets or, with more skill, they can create shapes including animals or cartoon characters.
The World Cup has even influenced the craze with children making flags or bracelets in a country’s national colours.
Managing director of The Entertainer chain Gary Grant said: “We have crazes in the toy trade. This is not a craze. It’s an epidemic.
“Lots of shops have been trading up 50 per cent on last year. It’s got a very wide appeal. It stretches the age groups of children.
“We are selling a third of a million packets of bands over 90 shops. We cannot wait to ship them in. They are flying the stock in from America.”
At about £1 a packet and a few pounds for an optional loom, it is a hobby children can fund with pocket money.
Natasha Lees assistant manager of The Entertainer’s Horsham store added: “It started a couple of months ago. We started doing demonstrations and then it hit the playgrounds. It went manic and people were asking for it.”
Mr Grant has offered Entertainer vouchers for the best Loom Band creation - see below for details of how to enter.
The Works in West Street has also seen a sales boom.
Duty manager Steve Light said: “We started getting them in before it kicked off. We didn’t know what they were and thought ‘this won’t sell’.
“It’s gone crazy in the last few weeks. Adults are doing it as well. Adults to very, very young children. Most crazes last a couple of weeks. This is getting bigger all the time.”
Meanwhile parents are trying to keep up with their children’s new hobby.
Merche Gutierrez, of New Street, Horsham, said: “I have twins - a boy and a girl - and they are both into it.
“It’s quite fun. They had it for their birthday in April. We are looking forward to going to Spain because they have got different ones - metallic ones.”
She has also found in helpful in an expected way. She added: “I’ve used the Loom Bands to stop biting my nails. You could stop smoking. It’s very therapeutic.”
Some said it had benefits for children as well.
Sara Heimers from Pulborough buys them for her eight-year-old son. She said: “If you haven’t got a band, you aren’t cool. They are so cheap.
“You can’t usually keep my son still. He will just sit there with it on his fingers for hours and hours. They are not on the tablet or Xbox. It’s great.”
Former Horsham teacher Barbara Dodd was buying them for her granddaughter. She said: “She’s made bracelets and has been doing it on her fingers.
“As an ex-teacher I haven’t seen enough crazes. This is all ages. The younger ones are seeing the older ones doing it.
“It’s also showing concentration and perseverance.”
Mother of four Liz McGrane said: “It’s my daughter and 11-year-old son are into it. It’s nice seeing them doing something other than sitting at the computer. It’s quite cheap as well.”
In partnership with the Entertainer Horsham store, The CountyTimes is running a competition to find the best Loom Band creation. A Entertainer voucher for £25 is on offer for the winning entry and three runners-up will receive £10 vouchers. To enter email a photo of you with your favourite Loom Band creation to the newsdesk. Please include your full name, age, address and telephone number. Also include a few sentences saying what you love about looming.
Normal competition rules apply. Closing date for entries is July 11 2014. All entries will appear on our website. Staff at the Horsham Entertainer store will pick the winners.