Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Where Have All The Shoe Shops Gone?

There’s no doubt about it, shopping for shoes is not the straightforward experience that it once was. Locating a shoe shop can be an ordeal in itself.

Way back in that hinterland know as the 1970s, my then local High Street was positively teeming with shoe shops, as was the shopping centre that opened there during that decade. We were spoilt for choice – Manfield, Saxone, Dolcis, Curtess, TrueForm, John Farmer – the list went on!

Are shoe shops becoming as extinct as the dinosaurs/
However, a visit back to that same High Street today is quite a different story. All that exists is a branch of Shoe Zone and a small Chockers store. Even venturing to an out-of-town retail park only yields a rather sad looking Brantano, which I view as a kind of shoe jumble sale – lots of random styles in random sizes, but not normally the one you’re actually seeking.

Of course, I realise that many High Street stores now include a shoe department – New Look, BHS, Matalan and Select to name a few – but many of these only offer women’s shoes. Where are you supposed to go to buy footwear for children and men?

This week I faced the unenviable task of buying new school shoes for my son. Needless to say, the choice was very limited. He may not be particularly fashion conscious when choosing footwear, but it would be nice to have more options available to him. My husband is also frustrated about the lack of choice – it’s not always an option to buy from premium shoe retailers and certainly shouldn’t be viewed as a necessity.

There are, of course, a number of online shoe retailers, but footwear is the last item that I would consider buying on the Internet. Finding the right fit can be a nightmare! How many pairs would I end up ordering and returning before I found the ideal fit? I want to go into a shop (or several if I’m honest), view a large selection of shoes and try on as many pairs as I like before making my choice.

I dream of walking down a High Street that hosts a range of reasonably-priced, well-stocked shoe shops and trying on endless pairs until I find my ideal style of fit. But tell me, where have all the shoe shops gone?

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