Debenhams reveals sensible shoes are disappearing from UK shelves

From: Debenhams
Published: Mon Nov 15 2010

Debenhams, the high street store, has announced that sensible shoes have virtually disappeared from the market. The traditional, thick soled, lace-up, comfy varieties of shoes are on the way out.

Trainers have taken their place, with more organisations now allowing the American style shoe to be worn to work rather than the tough, British, black, leather stalwarts.

The news brings to an end to the decades long association of sensible shoes with countless professions such as nurses, teachers, police officers and traffic wardens.

Debenhams spokesman Ed Watson said: "Women's sensible shoes may well be leaving their final footprints on the history and landscape of Britain."

Over 90 per cent of the British women's shoe market is now dominated by fashion statement shoes, such as knee high boots and high heels, Debenhams figures reveal.

Improved, stronger technology means that today's shoes with high heels, thin straps and elaborate decorations are now able to easily withstand the rigours of everyday wear, making them practical for most occasions for the first time.

Demand for sheer comfort and practicality - the key reason for choosing sensible shoes - has been fulfilled by trainers instead, which are now seen as socially acceptable across all classes.

Societal changes have also played a major role in the rapid decline of sensible shoe sales.

The rise and success of women in the workplace has fuelled an increasing demand for more formal, power-dressing shoes. 

Conversely, a decline in the number of women working on factory floors - a once familiar sight in the 1950s and 60s - has also reduced the legal requirement for suitably sensible footwear.  

Ed Watson continued: "Sensible shoes have provided the soundtrack to so many key elements of British society. Thousands of people across Britain still associate them with the comforting tread of a nurse's shoe on a hospital ward to the steady pace of a WPC on the beat

"In addition, there won't be a woman in the land who can't recall what their dad said after they bought their first pair of high heels: 'Why didn't you buy sensible shoes?'

"We want to do all that we can to provide our customers with the options of choosing sensible shoes, so we will continue to stock them.

"However, sales figures show that this once familiar shoe style is in danger of disappearing for good."

Debenhams figures reveal that sensible men's shoes continue to be as popular as ever.

Experts believe this is because many men continue to work in manual jobs while those in the professions face less pressure to look good in the office.

Notes to Editors:
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About Debenhams:
Debenhams is a leading department stores group with a strong presence in key product categories including women's wear, men's wear, children's wear, kids' shoes home and health and beauty. Debenhams is the second largest department store chain in the UK.

Debenhams operates 167 stores in the UK, Republic of Ireland and Denmark, comprising 154 full departments stores and 13 Desire by Debenhams stores, which is a small store concept featuring an edited product range. Debenhams also has 60 international franchise stores in 23 countries.

Designers at Debenhams include Ted Baker, Jeff Banks, Jasper Conran, Erickson Beamon, FrostFrench, Henry Holland, Betty Jackson, Ben de Lisi, Julien Macdonald, Melissa Odabash, Jane Packer, Pearce Fionda, Janet Reger, John Rocha, Lisa Stickley, Eric Van Peterson and Matthew Williamson.

Company: Debenhams
Contact Name: Carie Barkhuizen
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Contact Phone: 020 7408 3298

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