Andrew weighs in on the ‘Real v Online Shoe Store’ debate
As a podiatrist who is also a podiatric surgeon, I would like to comment on the pitfalls of purchasing shoes online.
I am seeing an increasing number of people who are having foot problems as a result of purchasing shoes online that don’t fit or are not suitable.
The main reason is they have purchased shoes online so save a few dollars, returns are often a hassle and with a lot of online stores, returns incur additional freight costs.
The inconvenience of returning shoes, people put up with or make do with the wrong size shoes which can cause foot pain, which is why they end up seeing people like me.
Buying online can be a false economy. An example I give to patients is to think of how many shoes you try on in a shoe store before you find the one that fits correctly and is comfortable.
That is not an option available in the online world. Shoe sizing with UK, US, European and metric shoe sizing is also a source of confusion and problems with getting the correct fit with online sales.
Shoe size is generally only a guide, as you often need a different size depending on the shoe styles and brand.
To me, it is simply not worth the risk, unless you are purchasing exactly the same shoe and style that you have already.
You are much safer going to a footwear retailer that offers good service in terms of fitting and recommending shoes.
Possibly a reason traditional bricks and mortar shoe retailers that are surviving or prospering is they offer good shoe-fitting service and advice within a range of quality brands.
As I say to patients, you are not just buying a shoe – you are also purchasing service in the form of the retailer’s expertise.
Shoe retailers that are losing business to online sales, in my opinion, are more likely to be those that are either self-service or provide minimal service, so you end up fitting yourself without any assistance.