Movie still from Confessions of a Shopaholic
Feel free to substitute “American” at any point, but the average British woman owns nearly £400 ($655) of shoes she never or rarely wears, according to a new study by The Co-operative Insurance. And although survey respondents owned an average of 20 pairs of shoes, 11 of them they barely touch, 10 percent of the 3,000 women interviewed admitted to spending £600—or $983 in U.S. dollars—a year on footwear, with the average pair clocking in at £36 ($59). The findings aren’t a huge surprise, but they’re still shocking when the numbers are laid out in front of you. We’re not all Imelda Marcoses, of course, but as far as hoarding is concerned, shoes are a low-hanging fruit. Maybe it’s time for spring cleaning?
IF THE SHOE FITS
Shaming British women wasn’t the intent of the study, however. The insurance agency originally set out to assess the value of Britain’s household contents, with the goal of boosting insurance coverage for pricy shoe collections. It may have a point; if, by chance, you’re buying really expensive shoes all the time, you may want to insure them under your homeowner’s policy. The ugly reality the survey uncovered, though, is this: The average Jane hoards shoes and spends a lot of money on things she doesn’t need—or use.
The bottom line: The average Jane hoards shoes and spends a lot of money on things she doesn’t need—or use.
Researchers also discovered that the average woman wears a pair of shoes for three years before throwing them away, although a fifth of respondents confessed to hanging on to their shoes, no matter how old or poorly fitted. Women purchase shoes for a variety of reasons, but 37 percent of those surveyed indulged in retail therapy because it cheered them up. Other reasons include buying shoes to go with a new outfit (52 percent), to stay on trend (18 percent), and to feed an obsession (10 percent). A surprising number of women will spend money on uncomfortable shoes—31 percent of respondents admitted to buying shoes in the wrong size, simply because they were too cute to resist.
The results of the study are interesting mostly because it puts hard numbers on what we already suspected was true: we buy more shoes than we need or can wear. (This writer is guilty as charged.) As shoppers, we can learn from this, for the sake of our feet, our pocketbook, and our planet.