Growing Trend Towards Larger Shoes
do you ever shop for shoes at lord and taylor? the smallest pumps i can find on their website is a size 6. some come no smaller than a 7. i notice this is also true for nordstrom and ann taylor loft. have you ever done a blog posting about the sudden unavailablility of sizes smaller than a 6? whats going on? it seems that overnight average became something like a 9 and anything smaller than a 6 has become a rarity. have you found the same thing to be true?
- Gail W.
Hi Gail! Thanks for writing me. The shift towards larger sizes and the disappearance of smaller ones is frankly no surprise. As people get larger and taller, their foot size grows too. According to a Slate article published a few years ago (ironically centered around the problems of finding large sizes), "at the beginning of the 20th century, the average American woman wore a 3.5 or a 4; by the 1940s she was strapping on a 5.5." In 2004, it was an 8.5. And the decision whether to stock a size is a function of following the trend - it's simply not economically sound to waste shelf space on all those small shoes when fewer and fewer people are going to buy them.
It's curious that you specifically mention online shoe sources - which are usually better stocked than bricks-and-mortar stores. Of the many reasons I buy online, shoe size selection is definitely high on the list. Someone else had recently informed me about Ann Taylor Loft's decision to get rid of their smaller shoe sizes. To be honest, I've also never shopped at Lord & Taylor. However, I haven't noticed many other retailers cutting smaller sizes yet for their online selection - but it's only a matter of time.
Certainly, it makes sense that physical stores don't carry smaller sizes - it's not worth it to the store to waste shelf space on the shrinking percentage of the population who still wear these sizes. There are notable exceptions as well - I was lucky enough a few months ago to find a bargain at Kenneth Cole because the smaller sizes were both in stock and on sale. Most stores only carry down to a size 6 - but haven't yet cut their online availability (thank goodness!).
If you're looking for particularly small shoes (less than size 5), Short Persons Support, has a listing of specialty sources. I freely admit that I haven't used any of these sources, since I'm luckily still able to find shoes at most retailers. Any readers out there who have?
Nordstrom's in particular is known for carrying small sizes in stores. Have you also tried the outlets? I've definitely seen smaller than size 5's in DSW and department store outlets. Lastly, let's not forget the children's department - for casual shoes anyway!
Good luck - it only gets harder as the years pass!