When Drapers last surveyed the men's mainstream footwear sector on November 4 last year, retailers said there was a distinct split between customers seeking quality and those driven by price.
The message was that it was increasingly difficult to offer a range of price points in a single store, because shoppers were finding it difficult to justify spending big when many affordable options looked so similar.
The independent retailers polled for this week's Indicator said this gap is getting bigger, with most shops trying to squeeze a profit from affordable footwear, while a few prosper by delivering high-end quality.
Many of those seeking big-ticket sales are businesses with heritage. Craig Johnson, manager of men's footwear at Edwards of Manchester, which sold this week's most expensive pair of shoes, said: "Most shops are fighting a price war, while we are pushing in the other direction. But we've been here since 1830 so are well established. I doubt if shops with little experience of high-end selling would be able to go straight into it."
Gillian Rankin, manager of John Nelson Footwear in Blackpool, Lancashire, which has traded for 27 years, said: "We cater to an older age group that still wants good-quality footwear. There are so many shops catering for younger customers that we are happy to sell to those who are more mature."
Name your best-selling brand of the week
Name your best-selling style for the week
1. Casual comfort
2. Formal classic
3. Casual lace-up
Name your best-selling boot brand for the week
What is the most expensive item you have sold in store this week?
£625 - Gaziano & Girling shoes at Edwards of Manchester
FASHION IN FIGURES
How does your week's business compare with this time last year?
29% - Better
23% - Same
Worse - 48%
AUTUMN 07 BUYING
Which shows will you be visiting for autumn 07 buying?
Moda Footwear - 71%
Kensington Shoe Event - 12%
Micam - 10%
GDS - 6%
Expo Riva Schuh - 4%
Modacalzado - 1%
WSA - 1%
None - 10%
How many shows will you visit for Autumn 07 buying? - 1
Do you intend to write orders at shows?
Yes - 35%
No - 65%
On average, how many new labels do you hope to find for autumn 07? - 2
What brand is on your autumn 07 wish list?
In which price bracket are most of your sales?
£30 to £50 - 27%
£51 to £70 - 54%
£71 to £90 - 11%
£91 plus - 8%
Do you have an own-label collection?
Yes - 17%
No - 83%
Which country makes the highest-quality men's footwear?
UK - 61%
Germany - 17%
Spain - 11%
Italy - 7%
China - 4%
What percentage of your sales are multiple purchases? - 11%
Do you sell both men's and women's footwear?
Yes - 98%
No - 2%
How many years has your store been trading?
1 to 10 - 14%
11 to 20 - 14%
21 to 30 - 11%
31 to 40 - 11%
41 to 70 - 21%
71 to 100 - 8%
101 to 200 - 19%
201 plus - 2%
Drapers spoke to 50 independents about their men's mainstream footwear business for the week ending January 20.
Brands and styles appearing in the lists, including the Top 10 and Top 5, are ranked when mentioned by five or more retailers.