Reality Check: Shoe Shopping

I saw this infographic at Racked (in partnership with Beso) and it was a good wake up call and insight into real shoe shopping habits. I live in this fantasy world where I think $400 is a good price for a pair of shoes, and that it is normal to have at LEAST forty pairs of shoes. (I own eighty plus, although that might be set to change soon.)

shoes, infographic, shopping, statistics

Of course you, my stylish readers, will most likely be on the same page as me, but when I saw these stats, I realised that my idea of a decent shoe price is very skewed. The respondents were female online shoppers, here are a few interesting numbers:

1. 49% spend between $50-$100 on a “nice” pair of shoes. $50?!?! That might get you a “nice” pair of Havaianas… And only 5% will spend over $250. I’ve got rubber boots worth more than $250!


shoes, infographic, shopping, statistics, McQueen, Uggs

Left, a pair of McQ pumps reasonably priced at $590, and right, a pair of Uggs, $225, which puts them above the price range of most people in this survey…

2. 53% of women surveyed spend between $100 and $500 a year on shoes. I was having trouble understanding this… does this mean most of them only buy one shoe per year? Do they buy the other shoe, to complete the pair, the following year?

3. 26% of women own a pair of Uggs. Well, that discredits the entire survey, because it means that a quarter of the respondents’   have questionable taste in footwear. VERY questionable.

And while this post might sound incredibly snobby, this isn’t only about the fact that people are buying cheap (and therefore probably tacky shoes) but it also comes down to the fact very cheap shoes are usually made from synthetic (read: petrochemicals) fabrics and the people making them are not paid a fair wage. Given the situation in Bangladesh, I think it is time that we all rethink these types of purchases.

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  • Lisa Wong

    This is quite the reality check, but not in the way you think (at least, not for me). These survey stats are a reminder of the position of privilege I occupy in living in a household with two incomes, being able to buy more than 1-5 pairs of shoes a year, and being able to pay more than what a lot of women consider the price for a “nice” pair of shoes.

    This survey probably attracted participants from a wide cross-section of society, including women with lower salaries and therefore a lower amount of disposable income to spend on clothing and shoes. (The stat correlating salaries to wearing flats vs. heels to work is VERY interesting. I can see how a woman earning a lower income might also have a job in retail or services which requires her to be on her feet all day, or she’d have to take transit instead of drive, and therefore she would never wear heels to work.) If someone is making minimum wage and has to support a family, $100+ on a pair of shoes might very well be a splurge.

    You’re right in saying our perspectives are skewed. Our tastes, our peers, our level of education and income all influence our consumption habits. When we’re among other stylish people or young professionals, or spending time with people from a similar demographic constantly, it’s easy to fall prey to the fallacy that our self-selected bubble reflects society at large. I’m not trying to accuse you of it–I notice this tendency in myself all the time! Thanks for sharing the infographic and refreshing my mindset.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Great comment. I need a reminder that even though I feel like we (my family) struggle – paying for 2 cars, a mortgage, insanely high childcare costs, etc… – the reality is that I am very privileged. I compare myself to my peers, not society at large.

  • Sarah Hughes

    probably what a lot of women mean by “nice” shoes is that they bought them for $50-$100 from a department store and not from Payless, Walmart or Target.

  • Lola

    McQueen pumps are worth $590? Sorry, but no. That’s like trying to convince me that paying $300 for a cotton tshirt is a steal, also.

    Yes, you’re privileged, but please don’t even try and start to convince me that paying any more than $500 for shoes is a “good deal. “I get it – the materials are of luxurious quality, they’re likely handmade in Italy or France, but ultimately you’re paying for a name. It’s just good marketing. You should also be telling us that the iPhone 5 is worth $800!

    You said yourself fashion needs to be taken less seriously – this entire post screams that message.

    I own plenty of designer shoes and bags, but tend to favour more contemporary, affordable brands like Rebecca Minkoff and Rachel Comey. I’m still getting my calf skin ankle boot, but I’m not spending $1500 to get it.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    I agree that shoes (like bags) have extremely high mark ups, but $500 is not ridiculous for a luxury brand, if they are made in Europe. I am pretty sure if you looked at the margins, you’d be surprised at how much they cost to make.

  • elle

    “21% of women who make 150k+ wear heels to work everyday” <—see, this data bothers me a LOT, especially paired with the "71% of women who make under 40k never wear heels to work." I'm not really sure what the infographic wants to imply, but the flip side of the data means that 79% of women who make 150k+ DO NOT wear heels to work everyday. so there are more high-earning heel-less women out there.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    An interesting point. Although I am guessing the women earning $150K+ are more likely to be older than the ones earning less (since your salary tends to go up in life, not down), and I guess as you get older, you are less likely to wear heels. That might be part of the reason?

  • Linn

    Is this just American numbers? Canadian? Here in Europe, buying a 100 $ shoe wouldn’t get you far, but that may also just be because of currency (and because I’m not including H&M shoes!) Anyway, yes, you sound a bit superficial in this post, although I totally understand your point. But the thing that came to my mind while watching these numbers are all of the relatively poor women living in our societies. I’m childless and think of my self often as poor, because I can’t buy all the designer jeans and bags I’d like, but when I face numbers like this I realize I’m very, very lucky, and actually not as poor as I often tend to think. And of course, shoes can’t by you happiness, but they very, very seldom make you less happy :)

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    This was an American poll. And yes, it is a good reminder about how fortunate we all are.

  • Skating Canuck

    26% own UGGS ? I am convinced the creator of UGGS named them that short for UGLY and has since been laughing his way to the bank that people would pay actually $300ish for them! Did these people not read THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES?