Shoes are a tricky thing for a retailer such as us. We sell a budget range of footwear for boys and girls, junior and senior, usually about four to five styles for each group, of which the majority are PU, (Poly Urethane), instead of leather. We do sell a few coated leather and full grain leather shoes but generally these are in the higher price bracket. With PU you get what you pay for, like all things in life, but for those on a budget PU is a good choice.

Returns are a very tricky area with shoes, as stated in previous posts all products will have some small returns percentage, a fact of life, no way around it, but shoes more often than not are brought back into store with damage and heavy wear from the child, not the shoes fault. As we all know a consumer’s contract is with the retailer not the manufacturer. Clothing is easy to identify which are actual faults and which are instances where a child has worked their thumbs through the seam in the cuff. We can replace faulty clothing easily as we know we are pretty much guaranteed a credit from the manufacturer. Not so with shoes.

In the instance of a customer being unhappy with a pair of shoes that have worn prematurely, we are in an awkward spot. We know that if it’s a genuine fault we will get a credit from the manufacturer and can replace or refund the shoes, but if it’s down to wear then we will not receive a credit. Therefore the fairest way for us to deal with footwear in these cases is return them to the manufacturer for a QC inspection and an official opinion, if it’s a fault we get a credit and the customer gets a refund or exchange.

Unfortunately not every customer agrees with this but from our side of things if we cannot receive a credit yet replace a faulty pair we are effectively paying for a new pair of shoes for your child out of our own pockets due to fair wear and tear. Not a great prospect for us.

My eight year old son has had many quality and styles of shoe since he started school, well known high street brands, supermarkets and of course he has road tested many styles that we sell in store. The result? It doesn’t matter if shoes for an average boy are £15 or £40, PU, coated leather or full grain leather, they will all look the same after a few weeks! Of course the advantage with full grain and some coated leathers is that they can be polished to give some semblance of the original shoe, PU can have a tendency to peel, but not often without assistance from the child.

Soles are the other aspect of shoe returns that we have to deal with, usually from premature wear, but what often isn’t taken into account is the fact that school shoes are often worn during breaks to play football, dragged along the floor when feet aren’t picked up and also utilised as a bike or scooter braking system!

Please don’t misunderstand this post as a dig; our posts are for reading by Parents, Suppliers, Schools and anyone else who may stumble upon them, they are just views from our perspective in this ever more transparent world of the Supplier-Retailer-Consumer relationship.