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NEWS SSF News


The Society of Shoe Fitters wants your support for National Shoe Fitting Week, being launched under the banner KEEP FEET ‘FIT’ on March 25th 2013


The Society of Shoe Fitters has announced that it will be launching National Shoe Fitting Week, under the banner Keep Feet ‘Fit’ on March 25th 2013 – the week leading up to Easter. The SSF, which operates on a non- profit basis, wants to raise national awareness of importance have having footwear fitted, and the vital service independent shoe retailers provide to the public. The Society’s Secretary, Laura West. says “We want the public to start thinking about their feet and how they buy their shoes. We are hoping that ALL shoe retailers, not just SSF members, will join us in promoting Keep Feet ‘Fit’ and that they can use this initiative to create their own promotion’s leading up to Easter week – a time traditionally when the media write about feet and footwear and people discard their boots and start thinking shoes, sandals and holidays. Hopefully it will give the trade a much needed kick-start after the cold, wet weather.” The Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists will be informing their members


of this event and there are over 11,000 Podiatrists in theU.K.(yes 11,000 – which speaks volumes!), and trade bodies B.F.A. , I.F.R.A. and the Multiservice Association (shoe repairers) are supportive of this initiative to help their members too. Posters from the SSF will be available from the beginning of March and Press Releases available in Word format if shops wish to use them in part to contact their own local media. “It is no good moaning that trade is bad and you are not selling shoes, if


you don’t get out and do something about it’ says Laura West, Secretary. “Whether you are qualified with the SSF or not, you offer the public a personal service, so start shouting about it. Take the initiative – what better time to do so? You may not be media savvy or confident at PR which is why we are offering all shops an olive branch to take some of our quotes and ideas to create your own. For kids shops colouring/shoe design/guess the number of laces competitions, quizzes etc. will all draw attention to your business and for adult businesses you could have foot pampering nights/afternoon’s with a local Reflexologist, Chiropodist or Nail painting expert on hand etc….time to think outside the box in more ways than one!!!!” We are also hoping that ALL SHOPS will lobby their local MP’s to draw


attention to the state of trade and the importance of shoe shops and fitting. Again the SSF have taken the thinking out of this and drafted a letter which can be used in part – just ask for a copy. The trade needs shops – without them the number of suppliers will dwindle and the choice available to the public will fall considerably with fewer chances of shoes actually fitting correctly. They need Qualified Fitters and Trained Staff who are handling a number of feet all day, to spot any potential problem and advise accordingly. Prevention is better than a cure! It all has a knock-on effect with visits to G.P.’s, clinics and remedial care, costing the taxpayer and NHS a fortune. If you would like a poster, press release, MP’s letter etc. please email with


your full address and contact information to: secretary@shoefitters-uk.org. Our next Qualification Fitting Course starts March 1st and if you are an experienced Fitter with more than 4 years experience we have a straightforward Entrance Application from our website – only £50 – so don’t delay, join us now and help us fight to keep shoe fitting an available skill. Laura West, explains “If everyone working in shoe shops trained to


become professional Shoe Fitters we could save the NHS thousands of pounds over the coming years, as our members already do in a small way, if Government would simply realise the importance of people’s feet in relation to their entire physiology and well-being. Footwear is treated as an accessory, but it is vitally important and the only item of clothing that can seriously damage your health in the long term. Online footwear purchase for children particularly is irresponsible as there is no standardisation of shoe sizing and no two pairs of feet are the same.


www.footweartoday.co.uk


Parents think they are doing the right thing having feet measured and then try to buy cheaper than the shop that measured them, what they don’t realise is that all gauges are calibrated differently and the size the gauge says is merely a starting point to a qualified or experienced shoe fitter. A gauge won’t tell you if a child has a high or low ankle bone, high or low instep, flaccid or rigid feet, the start of a bunion or flat feet…the list is long and is taken into account by a professional. The SSF is concerned that the number of independent shoe shops will


continue to decline, which will have a knock on effect for many of the footwear brands (both children and adults) that supply them and depend upon them as the main showroom for their goods. And, the more people are encouraged to shop online and fit their own children, the less likely they are to go to a quality shop and have their children’s shoes foot health assessed and shoes fitted correctly. The Clarks brand has continued to grow and develop internationally, but


not all brands could, or can, afford to do likewise. If independent shoe shops are scarce, then the fashion high street stores and supermarkets are likely to take over (as they are already doing to some extent), and eventually will only want their ‘own label’, reducing the number of brands available – no point making shoes if there is no-one to sell to! This reduces the shoe fitting skill base, the very people who give FREE advice at point of sale, i.e. the fitter. Shoe fitting expert, Laura West, regularly advises the public on their shoe buying and foot health problems, commonly caused by ill-fitting or inappropriate footwear and works closely with the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists as the public are suffering at a much earlier age from bunions, hammer toes, plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon problems, all of which were generally seen much later in life. Laura is very concerned that without advice of qualified shoe fitters, the future health of the British public will be at risk: People with diabetes have to be particularly careful about what they wear on their feet and how it is fitted and despite DiabetesUKrecommending the Society of Shoe Fitters members, many are unaware of how important their shoe fitting is, in fact diabetes can sometimes be detected by the bloom on a shoe. Adults can obviously make up their own mind if they want to feel


uncomfortable, but children should not be allowed to make the same mistake with the very young unable to communicate their pain. Parents should take responsibility for their children’s health and well-being and should worry less about supplying them with phones and computer games and more about their footwear. By self-fitting shoes or buying cheaply made fashion items, you are creating all sorts of problems that may affect the future health of your child which are often irreversible. “Now, is the time for the government to help the real footwear industry to


work together to ensure a future for shoe fitting and independent shops. This has been a mighty industry with a skill base second to none, but gradually it has been eroded by get-rich-quick business managers, incentives for factories to close and move production overseas, and the lure of cutting out the middle man to sell online”. There are also moves afoot to create a petition about the importance of


shoe fitting, which if enough people sign, can be handed to Downing Street. As Laura West points out, “it is perfectly possible to study shoe design and technology at university, but the most important part of a shoe is the fitting which is ignored. There is currently no legal obligation for anyone selling footwear to know anything about feet or fitting, but there is a moral obligation, which is why our members are so valuable to the country. We are in our 53rd year of assisting the trade and public, but we need help and unless we can carry on the skill base, it will be lost for ever, the health of the British public will suffer and it could end up costing the NHS millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. Every shop should have at least one Qualified Shoe Fitter and every website selling children’s footwear should be made to carry a prominent Government Health Warning advising parents to have feet assessed professionally” says West. “We all need to help one another to avoid the marginalisation of our


trade, so power to the independents, their suppliers and qualified shoe-fitters for 2013. We hope the public will support Keep Feet ‘Fit’ - National Shoe Fitting Week and by supporting their local shoe shop – use it or lose it” says Laura West.


FEBRUARY 2013 • FOOTWEAR TODAY • 7


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