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t a time when retailers are increasingly under pressure to persuade the public to part with their declining amounts of disposable income the decisions as to what

products should be stocked, and, just how much space they should be allocated in store is a crucial one. There is a compelling case for giving “below the ankle” items, so often completely ignored, some serious consideration. At the last count the world wide market value of

this sector was $1 billion! With the phenomenal worldwide success of just one product, Yaktrax, this winter, this figure is unlikely to have diminished. The keys to the success for this sector of the

footwear accessories market are comfort and prevention of short and long term damage to feet and a feeling of well being and safety. And, the warning signs are not difficult to miss. Pain in the form of chafing, blisters and bunions is a fairly obvious sign that your feet are crying out for help. Falling over speaks for itself! Fashion footwear for women invariably puts a

huge strain on the body’s mechanics – from increased pressure points at the arch, ball and heel to those niggling blisters you often get on the back of the heel itself or from heel straps. Then there is the common problem of your foot moving around in the shoe creating friction and discomfort. Many women chose to wear fashion footwear

with comparatively high heels in the workplace as well for social occasions, testing the resilience of their feet to the limits. However, there is now a wide range of “below the ankle” products that have been specifically designed to prevent so much of this short and long term damage that women always felt “went with the territory”. Gone are the days when these products were so

obvious and bulked out the shoe. Today the majority of these are made from clear gel – thin strips or spheres, discretely positioned inside the shoe at the pressure points and which are virtually invisible even when the shoe is standing footless. The technology has also been refined for categories of shoes like wedgies and sandal thongs. Pain no longer has to be a by-product of wearing fashionable footwear! Having a range of these products available in

store can also make the difference between closing the sale or losing it.

Profits Below The Line Just think how many times a customer is “sold”

on a particular pair of shoes only to find that the fit is not quite right – especially when the shoes are only available in full sizes. With the appropriate insole the problems of fit

and comfort disappear and the sale can be achieved.

Although the male of the species might not

have to combat the damages likely to be inflicted by four inch heels, comfort is still very much an issue. Wearing shoes that pinch the toes, pressurise the ball and heel or even chafe the back of the heel is a nightmare and impact on every aspect of the day. Having once experienced the benefits of insoles and gel inserts no-one is likely to what to jettison them. The comfort factor in leather shoes can also be

affected by how they are treated by the owner. It’s a good idea to treat them with some protective coating prior to use, keep them away from the radiator when wet and feed the leather with decent polish or cream to keep them soft and supple. And, if you want to keep them in shape and creases-free, make use of shoe trees. A wide variety of custom-built, space-efficient,

eye-catching merchandising units for all of these below the ankle products are available and they provide regular turnover at good margins. Retailers can also take advantage of a wide

range of products designed to combat foot odours. It is always advisable to allow your footwear to have a 24 hour break from your feet rather than wearing the same shoes all the time. Unpleasant odours can be combated by fragrant insoles and by products such as Cherry Blossom’s Sneaker Balls. They will remove the most retentive of odours in not only footwear but lockers and sports bags too!


The next logical step forward in this sector of the market for footwear retailers is a range of products that care for and pamper the feet. David Watkins, Sales Director of Cherry

Blossom, makes these valid points: “We have a comprehensive range of below the

ankle products to meet all requirements. There is no longer any need for those wearing “fashionable footwear” to endure pain in pursuit of appearance! The products are sophisticated and undetectable for those wearing them and attractively packaged and merchandised for those selling them. And, when given the space and the support in store, will provide a surprising level of regular, much needed income. And if you want to be one step ahead of your

competitors you might consider adding a range of “foot care” products like our Saicara range. Created to cross the divide between medical and cosmetic foot care, Saicara uses botanicals as their active ingredients. “The key for retailers is that Saicara is a

desirable purchase, rather than functional. Many customers will welcome the opportunity to purchase foot care products that are “endorsed” by the people they trust to purchase foot wear from. Because these are cosmetic products they have great fragrances, feel wonderful on the skin and give the client a lift in the same way that shoe purchases do and we expect Saicara’s presence to add a genuinely new income stream to retailers. Furthermore the cosmetics market has, so far, been recession-proof and the forecast is for strong growth over the next five years”.

Further details from Michael Heal: Tel: 0775 157 1936


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