In an age when you can cut and paste at the click of a mouse, you might think playing with paper, scissors and glue was a dying hobby. Yet retailers are reporting a surge of interest in scrapbooking.
Stores have seen sales of scrapbooks and related accessories such as decorative masking tape and stamps rise in the past year, as more people seek to personalise the way they display photographs and keepsakes, or document special events, such as weddings and births. Retailers credit the wider resurgence in craft and new "trendy" products as driving the increase.
Paperchase has enjoyed a double-digit boost in sales of scrapbook products in the past year and has expanded its spring/summer scrapbook range by 20 per cent to satisfy demand. The stationery chain recently launched new workshops in two flagship stores – in Buchanan Street, Glasgow, and Tottenham Court Road, London – where experts demonstrate découpage (decorating with cut-out pieces of paper) and how to personalise a scrapbook.
Shoppers at the independent The Makery shop in Bath, where papercraft sales, including scrapbook accessories, have risen 30 per cent year on year, are often inspired to mark a special occasion. The owner, Kate Smith, said that while, historically, scrapbook products were sometimes "quite twee", new styles were attracting a new audience. Japanese washi tape, a paper masking tape, sells well. "It's all fluorescent colours and geometric patterns," she said. "It's really much fresher and more contemporary."
Sales of scrapbook kits are up 600 per cent on last year at Hobbycraft, the arts and crafts chain, predominantly driven by newer concepts, such as the American brand Project Life, which make it quicker and easier for crafters to make a scrapbook by providing pre-designed layouts and sometimes even eliminating the need for scissors and glue. This is, in turn, prompting "a huge increase" in younger customers, according to Tessa Ireland, a senior buyer at Hobbycraft.
"Traditional scrapbooking remains popular, but these new generations of customers are almost using these new concepts as an alternative to diaries, collecting photos, concert tickets and their captions accordingly," said Ms Ireland. "It looks really trendy."
According to the Craft & Hobby Association UK, 28 per cent of scrapbookers are aged between 16 and 24. Last year, the trade association estimated that 2.8 million Britons do scrapbooking, with the hobby attracting 615,000 new crafters between 2012 and 2013. It expects the total to rise further this year.
Amie Scull, a buying assistant for stationery at John Lewis, said sales of essential items such as photo corners, which hold pictures in place, were "really increasing", as making scrapbooks returned to favour. "This may be in part due to people wanting a return to displaying and enjoying photos, rather than just leaving them on digital cameras and computers," she said.
"Craft in general has been back in vogue for a while, too, with people revisiting the joy of the manual hobbies of their childhoods. Of course, new social media platforms like [the scrapbooking site] Pinterest could also have had a positive effect, kick-starting the trend by reminding people how useful collating images and inspirational pieces into one place can be."