The Society of Shoe Fitters
Registered charity no. 1178413
c/o The Anchorage, 28 Admirals Walk, Hingham, Norfolk. NR9 4JL
Tel. +44 (0)1953-851171 Email: email@example.com Website: www.shoefitters-uk.org
COVID-19 AND THE S.S.F. and C.F.H.R.
Our industry suffered three years of Brexit uncertainty and in 2020 has been side-swiped
worldwide by the Covid-19 virus. We would say ‘you couldn’t make it up’, but Dean koontz
did in his book Fever Dreams.
Retailers have been resourceful with doorstep fittings and using social media and Iphones
to talk parents through this very difficult time as their children’s feet continue to grow. In
the first two days of trading are seeing footwear being worn more than a full size too small.
The Society of Shoe Fitters charity, and Children’s Foot Health Register have continued to
give advice thanks to volunteers but furloughed staff in a bid to keep afloat themselves.
Despite a lack of funds, the S.S.F. and C.F.H.R. members have been sent a COVID-19
showcard to reassure the public they are in a safe environment and a letter giving much
needed support and points to consider, as shops return to work. Samantha Tarbit from
Shoedini in Milton Keynes told us “The continued (uninterrupted) guidance both bodies,
especially the S.S.F., has given to retailers (and trade), despite being a charity, continues
to surprise us. We would love to see the industry support them as much as the Indies do. I
feel more investment from the trade would add enormous value to the Society charity and
the C.F.H.R. which would also help us. If we could all dig as deep as we can during this
time, we might just survive in time for the resurgence of independent retail, but need truly supportive brands strengthening the battle”.
The Society was granted charitable status in 2018 having been not-for-profit since 1959.
With a quarter of charities closing and money being directed to the NHS, it is a huge
struggle. There are still some affluent people in the industry who could easily afford to
sponsor both organisations which would help the trade they are selling to, but they send
money elsewhere. Selling shoes that fit will keep the consumer coming back for more and
a fitting gauge is merely the starting point.
The SSF and CFHR has also put out a plea to manufacturers to settle ‘returns’ promptly so
that shops do not have worn footwear sitting around in their shops. Photographs clearly
show if a shoe is truly faulty or simply abused, so if it is a justified return a credit note can
be put on the system the same day, allowing retailers to quickly dispose of the shoes.
Rosemary Gray – President said ‘The SSF has always given back more than it receives.
There is no million-pound pot for us to survive on the interest, we need to sell courses and
rely on goodwill year-on-year to pay bills and keep shops alive. With costs rising and
shops struggling to compete, it is very stressful. We successfully fought to keep VAT off
children’s shoes and continue to lobby government to ensure the skill of professional shoe
fitting is not lost forever (not helped by the subject being dumbed down by some). With
well-respected retailers like Step2wo and Johnsons Shoes closing, the windows for good
product are diminishing. Once they are gone the brands will eventually go too, they are
shooting themselves in the foot. Putting independent retailers and their supporters first,
should be their priority.”