Shoe Nation: American Shoe Habits by the Numbers

Shoe Nation: American Shoe Habits by the Numbers

American flag with shopper silhouette.Let’s talk about American shoe habits. Either we are out shopping for shoes at the beginning of each season to get a jump on the newest styles, or we are waiting until the end of the season to snap up clearance deals for next year. Each one of us, male or female, falls somewhere on a scale of one to Imelda Marcos when it comes to shopping for shoes.

$20 Billion a Year

According to the National Shoe Retailers Association and the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans spend $20 billion a year on shoe-related purchases. Ladies and gentlemen, that is a lot of shoes. Seventeen percent of these purchases are for women’s casual shoes, a category I am quite familiar with, thank you very much. The rest of the purchases are divided among women’s and men’s casual, athletic shoes dress shoes, and of course, “other.”

Imelda Marcos may have shined in her heyday as the maven of shoes with 1,200 pairs in her collection. But did you know that most women own between 15 and 40 pairs of shoes? I haven’t counted mine, but I am positive I am on the high end of that average.

Shoes and Psychology

What is so special about shoes? If you ask me, it’s because feet don’t change. We may go up a size or down a size in clothing, but unless something major happens (like having a baby), our feet stay the same. I think there is security in the knowledge that no matter what, the shoes that are cute today will be cute tomorrow. Maybe it’s a mind game, but it’s true. Sometimes all we need to lift our spirits is a sassy pair of shoes that make us feel good.

Men’s and Women’s Shoe-Buying Habits

Women aren’t the only big spenders when it comes to shoes. American shoe habits show that men’s athletic shoes account for twenty percent of all money spent. So while they may have fewer pairs of shoes than their female counterparts, they seem to be willing to spend more. Interesting.

I’m formulating a theory. Bear with me.

Let’s say there is $200 to spend on shoes. My husband would immediately search for the best pair of $200 shoes he could find. He would want the ones that would carry him through mid-life and possibly all the way to retirement. “It’s money well spent,” he’d say. And he would probably be right. He would wear the shoes every single day.

If I were in possession of the $200 bankroll, I would see how many pairs of shoes I could get for the money. “I would be set through fall with that cash! And I bet I could even score a new handbag,” is what I would say. And for me, it would be about the thrill of the deal or the sale.

That’s why shoes are so great: because there really is something for everyone, from the big spender to the thrill seeker.