back to article Computerised stock management? Nah, let’s use walkie-talkies

I’d like to try these in a size nine-and-a-half or size 10, please. “A size nine... and-a-half?” the shop assistant asks incredulously. Yes. Or a 10. “Which size do you want – the nine-and-a-half or the 10?” I’d like the size that fits my feet. “So... are your feet size nine-and-a-half or size 10?” Ah now, I can’t say for …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Despite having a nationwide presence, owning several major brands and itself close to becoming a household name, this retailer has managed to push 16 years into the millennium apparently without any kind of computerised shop-floor stock management whatsoever. Indeed, I learn that stocktake checks take place three times a year, manually, like in t’old days.

    Cheap zero-hours labour stock-checking cheap stock works out cheaper than SAP.

    1. TheOtherHobbes

      SAP - the company that sells the invoicing system that demands that suppliers and freelancers have to pay to use it.

      At least you only have to pay over a certain turnover threshold.

      But still.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        SAP? ..for Inventory Control? Are you mad?

        Once upon a time, there was a Canada-wide chain of stores called 'The Sony Store'. When they implemented SAP, they couldn't put a box into a truck even if their life depended on it. This went on and on for about a year. Their stores across Canada had empty shelves.

        It seems reasonable to question the intelligence or sanity of anyone that somehow still fails to comprehend and appreciate the 'interesting' history of SAP. It seems to be a too-common form of madness. Perhaps wilful blindness. Inexplicable.

        1. Mark York 3 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: SAP? ..for Inventory Control? Are you mad?

          Picked up about a load of PS3 controllers though on the last trading day at $10 a piece.

        2. 404

          Re: SAP? ..for Inventory Control? Are you mad?

          'When they implemented SAP, they couldn't put a box into a truck even if their life depended on it'

          Staples... Order online and pick up in store next day... One day whatever the fuck I ordered didn't make the truck and thus didn't get to the store - I didn't know this so I showed up anyway, thinking whatever the fuck it was I ordered would be there, nope.

          Me: Ok, how about I take that one there on the shelf?

          Staples: nope, we can't give it to you for the online price.

          Me: What? Why not?

          Staples: The numbers wouldn't match in the system and then we'd have to call those bastards at online Staples and we don't like them. Huge problem, can't be done.

          Me: Seriously?

          Staples: Yep, whatever the fuck you ordered will be in tomorrow..

          Me: Let's just cancel it then.

          Staples: We can't until whatever the fuck you ordered comes in, then we can run a return..........


          I order through Amazon mostly now.

          1. Charles 9

            Re: SAP? ..for Inventory Control? Are you mad?

            Then you're supposed to say, "The Customer Is Always Right. If you don't make this right by the time a policeman shows up, you're going to have a lot more than just F'n Staples Online to worry about, or are you aware of the crime of False Advertising?"

    2. Buzzword

      Despite having a nationwide presence, owning several major brands and itself close to becoming a household name...

      Are they also famous for their large mugs emblazoned with the company name in huge letters?

      1. phils

        And for the large mug who owns the company?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: works out cheaper than SAP.

      Judging from what I hear about projects at work - using the CEO to do it would work out cheaper and quicker than implementing SAP

  2. Rande Knight

    9 1/2 shoes

    Yes, I've got very wide feet too - probably something to do with going barefoot a lot as a child.

    It's rare that there will be shoes available in size 9.5, so I either have to go with size 9, which are only bearable for a few hours, or feel like I'm wearing clown shoes in a size 10, with my feet slipping backwards and forwards (and getting blisters if walking for any significant distance).

    1. Yugguy

      Re: 9 1/2 shoes

      As far as I can tell most people have wider feet than the average shoe is made for. Basically the "standard" shoe size needs to be wider.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: 9 1/2 shoes

        As far as I can tell most people have wider feet than the average shoe is made for.

        Go for a decent brand like Barker, they cost a fortune but they come in wide sizes, last for ages, and can be returned to the factory for resoling for much less than buying a new pair. Well worth it.

      2. Kubla Cant

        Re: 9 1/2 shoes

        most people have wider feet than the average shoe is made for

        Clothing and footwear manufacturers seem blind to the actual dimensions of real people. Try buying a casual shirt. Most are so tight they constrict my breathing. I may not be as svelte as I used to be, but I don't think the size of my rib-cage has changed. And I find it hard to believe that skinny twenty-somethings have the financial resources to be the target market for Thomas Pink, Gant, Ted Baker et al.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: 9 1/2 shoes

      I have the opposite; long, narrow feet, and it's just as much of a pain to find shoes that fit right. A normal sized shoe will have my toes jammed up at the end, whilst my foot is free to slide from side to side.

      1. chrisf1

        Re: 9 1/2 shoes

        Same here. For what it's worth go shoe shopping in Canada and the US as their standard last is a lot slimmer.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 9 1/2 shoes

      Tried some M&S formal shoes a short while back and the 9 1/2 was bigger than the 10. I couldn't decide whether it was a mis-labelled 10 1/2 or they decide that quality controls on that particular supplier could be dispensed with.

      1. getHandle

        Re: 9 1/2 shoes

        I've had M&S staff tell me that sizing depends on which country the factory that made the item was based in. I guess centimetres and the like vary from country to country??

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: 9 1/2 shoes

          I guess centimetres and the like vary from country to country??

          cm? How very modern. I thought shoe sizes were measured in barleycorns?

          1. Alien8n

            Re: 9 1/2 shoes

            Barleycorns? Thought you got the corns after wearing the shoes?

            1. jonathanb Silver badge

              Re: 9 1/2 shoes

              A barleycorn is 1/3 of an inch, and shoe sizes do theoretically go up in increments on 1/3 of an inch. However, Euro sizes are paris points, which is 2/3 of a cm, and in China / Japan, shoe sizes are the length in cm. A lot of shoes are made in either Euro or China/Japan sizes and rounded to the nearest British size and US size.

              I always go by the China/Japan sizes where possible because a cm is a less subjective unit of measurement that the others.

          2. Vinyl-Junkie

            Re: I thought shoe sizes were measured in barleycorns

            No, just in corns....

            Apparently Alien8n had the same idea.... :)

          3. m0rt

            Re: 9 1/2 shoes

            I have exactly the same problem.

            What I *can* tell you is that if you have wide feet, and usually buy a UK 10, or 10.5 (I also cycle, cycling shoes are a PITA for anyone who isn't an elf), but the Red Wing moc-toe style boots in a UK 9 *Wide* fit a treat. There is no way I would get in a 9, yet alone a 9.5 in any other size. They aren't easy to come by in a wide, but there is a Red Wing supplier in London who I source my own from who do stock them.

            On the downside, you will look like a hipster wannabee. On the plus side, you will have comfortable feet.

            1. DropBear

              Re: 9 1/2 shoes

              In my experience, the only thing changing with shoe size is the length of those accursed things. Width? No! Height? Hell no! And that's a rather large issue, literally, as my feet are, uh, overall thicker than usual - but the only thing different sizes change is how far the shoes continue past my toes, not whether I can actually put them on (I can't. Any of them. And then I find a model that I miraculously can. And then they stop making it the next week. AAAAARGH!)...

        2. Adam 1

          Re: 9 1/2 shoes

          > I guess centimetres and the like vary from country to country??

          Would that be African or European centimetres?

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: 9 1/2 shoes

      "probably something to do with going barefoot a lot as a child."

      Warning - four Yorkshiremen quotes incoming.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 9 1/2 shoes

      I have wide feet. Clarks. I have been buying them steadily since 1972, when they turned me down for a job but I had an interesting talk with Matthew Clark.

      The problem is that some years ago they went through a period of size changing. I had been 9 1/2 for over 30 years when I suddenly became 8, and the 8 was as long as my old shoes. Then I wobbled between 8 and 9 for a bit. I'm still on 9, but it means I can't buy on line. I have to plan my purchases in advance and then wait till I go near a big Clarks and stock up. Last time I had to buy three pairs. But at least I only have to go through this every few years.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: 9 1/2 shoes

        Also have wide feet and love Clark's. Bonus is that they seem to last forever. As do Rockport and Timberland which are also wide enough.

    6. Triggerfish

      Re: 9 1/2 shoes

      I always wonder if being barefoot, or living in plimsols were the reason my feet are wide. I find shoes so uncomfotable because of this and the fact the soles are all wrong for how I walk.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: 9 1/2 shoes

        "I always wonder if being barefoot, or living in plimsols were the reason my feet are wide."


        Try Eccos.

    7. Mark 85

      Re: 9 1/2 shoes

      I can remember that in the not too distant past, one could find shoes in "narrow", "regular", and "wide"... I think the designators (if memory servers right) was something like A, AA, AAA. And then the cost cutting, profit climbing began.. If we're not in the majority for whom the shoe is made, tough...our business isn't wanted.

      Long sleeve shirts used to come in different sleeve lengths also...

      <Sigh> Sometimes I miss those days.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: 9 1/2 shoes

        I tend to buy approach shoes nowadays instead of trainers because trainers are often narrow as well, some of the brands can be quite comfy for the wider footed. Plus a good pair though expensive can last for ever, get goretex and also nice and waterproof. My last Salamons* must have walked thousands of miles, had them for about 8 yrs before they finally went, wore them almost every day.

        *I have since heard the quality has dropped so YMMV.

        1. PhilipN Silver badge

          Foot-shaped shoes

          Do not know of any - go figure - except Joe Nimble from Baer :

      2. Dave Bell

        Re: 9 1/2 shoes

        Shirt sleeves and trouser legs, I learned to use a sewing machine.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 9 1/2 shoes

      Got feet measured recently - right 8 1/2 width H, left 8 width G.Tried on numerous shoes - currently wearing size 9 from the "plus" range, with size 10 insoles. Paid over £100 for this privilege.

      Still things have improved, last time I bought shoes there were two very expensive pairs that might fit me in the shop (the times before there had only been one), this time - perhaps seven or eight pairs, of which perhaps three weren't completely hideous.

      I remember the worried look on the shop assistant's faces when, as a kid, I put my foot in that machine, then them disappearing out the back of the shop before reappearing with some completely hideous pair of clod-hoppers that looked like they were designed specifically to humiliate me as part of the price for using up so much leather.

      Anonymous because I'm still ashamed of my deformity.

      Never mind - it toughened me up and made the man I am today...

  3. Josco

    Do you have any tea?

    I was in a very good bread shop recently, they had a huge range of home made bespoke bread along with the usual white & brown stuff. In comes a customer, "May I help?" asked the assistant. "Some bread please." replied the customer.....

    1. Joe Harrison

      Re: Do you have any tea?

      My daughter also worked in (Waitrose) coffee shop and she assured me that although there was a menu of 15 "different" coffees they were all more or less the same stuff. Two of them contained literally identical ingredients but presented slightly differently.

      I don't think asking for bread in a Bread Shoppe is unreasonable. I hate it when I ask for a coffee but they read out a list of Italian nouns (a language I don't speak) and ask which one I want.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Do you have any tea?

        Joe most coffees have exactly the same ingredients - coffee water, and milk. but there's a hell of a lot of difference in the way you brew it and prepare it!

        Just because all beer is made from hops, water, yeast and barley does not mean all beers are the same!!!

        1. Adam 1

          Re: Do you have any tea?

          > Just because all beer is made from hops, water, yeast and barley does not mean all beers are the same!!!

          Certain American versions seem to contain exceptional quantities of the second. Other Aussie brands mix them so terribly that they have to export them cause they're is no way WE'D actually drink that crap.

          1. Charles 9

            Re: Do you have any tea?

            "Certain American versions seem to contain exceptional quantities of the second."

            And many Americans WANT it that way because they want to quench their thirst first WITHOUT drinking water, get buzzed second. It tells you something when the #1 beer in America is a LIGHT beer.

        2. Yugguy

          Re: Do you have any tea?

          I always refuse to speak cafe-ese.

          I want a filter coffee with milk. No, not a fucking latte, or a fucking Americano or any other bollocks.

          Coffee. With milk.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do you have any tea?

        Oh, my (Merkin) wife has the same problem getting coffee in the UK.

        Already upset that she can't get cream in her coffee (she's taken to carrying creamer with her), with every visit Britain seems to have become increasingly espressoified, and so finding "a coffee" (i.e. filter coffee) has become an adventure.

        PS to my wife Americano means "bad coffee diluted".

        1. MrXavia

          Re: Do you have any tea?

          I think almost every location I have tried in the UK can be said to serve bad coffee (with the exception of a nice little bike barista I occasionally use when I forget to bring my own from home)

          The main problem is horrid beans badly roasted....

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Do you have any tea?

            "I think almost every location I have tried in the UK can be said to serve bad coffee"

            You must just be unfortunate. In our small town there are four places where you can get decent coffee, two where it's acceptable, and two chains which I can't tell you about because, of course, I've never been in either. Even our local Italian restaurant knows better than to over-roast the beans (often a problem in Italy where they use robusta and overcook it.)

            1. psychonaut

              Re: Do you have any tea?

              "she's taken to carrying creamer with her"

              is that euphemism for ....oh ,. never mind.

          2. Triggerfish

            Re: Do you have any tea?

            The main problem is horrid beans badly roasted....

            Yeah holidayed earlier in the year in a country known for nice coffee, never used to mind Starbucks or Costa before (I mean I never understood the fuss over decent coffee either). That was an eye opener on what good coffee tastes like, has completely ruined Starbucks and Costa for me though.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Do you have any tea?

              "Yeah holidayed earlier in the year in a country known for nice coffee, never used to mind Starbucks or Costa before (I mean I never understood the fuss over decent coffee either). That was an eye opener on what good coffee tastes like, has completely ruined Starbucks and Costa for me though."

              That's a problem most people have with most things. If all you've ever had in your life is crap, getting something made properly can be a revelation. We've all heard the stories of kids growing up with a complete disconnect from where things come from or how they made. eg chips come the freezer aisle and they don;t know what a potato is. A friends child brought a school friend home and on being offered an orange didn't know what to do with it and had to be shown how to peel and eat it. The problem in much of the developed world is we have been trained over many years to think we don't have the time or the money to get the good stuff. We have to hurry everywhere with a branded cardboard cup of lukewarm brown milky stuff clutched in our hands because if we don't hurry and eat/drink on the go then we can't be productive and successful.

              1. Triggerfish

                Re: Do you have any tea?

                Well to be fair price can very well have something to do with it, brought a kilo of coffee back for about £15. It's about £40-50 a kilo over here, I figure the stuff Starbucks use is not of that quality, dunno what they would charge for a cup, specially if it's done in a way that isn't using a barista machine, like dripping through a phin or a cold brew which can take some time.

                Plus being British I was mainly brought up on tea we didn't really do coffee in the house except when the peculator was brought out for guests, and takeaway tea is often manky, so coffee on the go is a sort of better alternative. We will not talk of the anathema that is vending machine tea.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Do you have any tea?

                  "we didn't really do coffee in the house except when the peculator was brought out for guests,"

                  That must have been some expensive coffee if you needed an embezzler to help pay for it.

                  [peculator and percolator are a bit different. Sorry, couldn't resist.]

                  1. Triggerfish

                    Re: Do you have any tea?

                    Guess that shows how much we used it. :D Hey learnt a new word as well have an upvote..

                2. Dave Lawton

                  Re: Do you have any tea?

                  Would you enlighten us on the location please ?

                  What is the name of the brand on sale in the UK please ?

                  1. Triggerfish

                    Re: Do you have any tea? @Dave Lawton

                    If that was to me Vietnam coffee heaven from my obv' limited experience but there were places just roasting it in the streets and grinding it there and then and coffee shops are everywhere they have quite the coffee culture going over there, a friend working there in a office took in some nescafe instant, he was mocked severely :).

                    The brand is Trung Nguyen San Tao No 8, although the normal stuff is very good as well. I like my coffee with a bit of milk and sweet they usually add condensed milk instead, which I'd recommend a dash of instead of normal milk (if you don't drink it black natch), it's lovely both have a slight hint of chocolate to them only tried it dripped through a phin. Someone told me they do not have that high a caffeine content to them, but as someone who likes his caffeine to get me through the day, there was plenty caffeine, a couple of cups will get you wired.

                    Also they do egg coffee over there which sounds odd but is actually quite nice.

                    1. Triggerfish

                      Re: Do you have any tea? @Dave Lawton

                      Sorry that should be Sang Tao No 8, and I believe the normal stuff, was no 3.

                      1. Dave Lawton

                        Re: Do you have any tea? @Dave Lawton


                        Yes, 'twas aimed at you. Thanks for the info, much appreciated.

                        Further Q. What easily available brands on sale in the UK, might you recommend please ?

          3. John R. Macdonald

            Re: Do you have any tea?

            Cue the old joke:

            Q: Why do the English drink tea?

            A: Have you tried their coffee?

      3. GrumpenKraut

        Re: Do you have any tea?

        > I hate it when I ask for a coffee but they read out a list of Italian nouns (a language I don't speak) and ask which one I want.

        After they finish, just say: OK, I'll have the coffee.

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Do you have any tea?

        "I hate it when I ask for a coffee but they read out a list of Italian nouns"

        I'm glad I don't drink coffee. It's just too complicated.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do you have any shoes?

      Dabbsy Dabbsy ( I think I'm allowed to call you that, I read your stuff online so we're like best friends yeah?)

      Your explanation about the naturally apologetic nature of us Brits is spot on, though I suspect that is more likely conditioning brought on by crap stock keeping, someone should write a column about the hassles of finding a shoe shop with shoes in sometime. :)

    3. Fungus Bob

      Re: Do you have any tea?

      Seems to be a perfectly reasonable question if this is anything to go by:

  4. David Roberts
    Thumb Up

    Feet like flippers?

    I felt an unusual kinship with you after reading the article (feel free to shudder slightly).

    In the UK shoe manufacturers just don't seem to understand wide feet. I think they expect you to just cram your feet into their chosen style and let your bones adjust over time.

    For trainers I always end up with New Balance 4E fittings. No other trainer even seems to come in width fittings.

    For "proper shoes" (not that I wear them much these days) I always end up with Clarkes Extra Wide. No other manufacturer seems to do width fittings in adult shoes. Remember Start Rite? Where is the "End Rite" range?

    I can't even get proper cycling shoes with pedal cleats.

    Thankfully, walking boots come in more generous widths.

    I also do Yoga in bare (size 11) feet, so the image you painted also resonates. Scary or what?

    1. James 51

      Re: Feet like flippers?

      Clarkes have a few wide fitting shoes.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Feet like flippers?

        "Clarkes have a few wide fitting shoes."

        Try this for size.

      2. Mark York 3 Silver badge

        Re: Feet like flippers?

        I also like Hush Puppies.

        I love pointing out the Shoe Event Horizon in shoe shops, when I get get asked by the wife or staff why I'm buying a spare set of shoes (that actually comfortably fit & are on some form of sale\discount - Bloody expensive in Canadaland).


        Posit: you are living in a stagnant, declining civilisation. Where are you looking?




        What do you see?


        My shoes.


        Correct! What do you do to cheer yourself up?


        Uhm… press the button?


        Incorrect! Think again. Your world is a depressing place; you are looking at your shoes. How do you cheer yourself up?


        I buy a new pair.




        Can I press the button?


        All right.


        Wa-ho! So nice.


        Now, imagine everyone does the same thing. What happens?


        Everyone feels nice?


        Ah, forget the button! Concentrate! Everyone buys new shoes. What happens?


        More shoes.




        More shoe shops.




        Can I - ?


        No, no.




        And in order to support all these extra shoe shops, what must happen?


        Everyone… must keep buying shoes.


        And how is that arranged?


        Manufacturers dictate more and more different fashions and make shoes so badly that they either hurt the feet or fall apart.


        So that?


        Everyone has to buy more shoes.




        Until… everyone gets fed up with lousy, rotten shoes.


        And then what?


        Why can’t I press the button?


        And then what?! Come on!


        Massive capital investment by the manufacturers to try and make people buy the shoes.


        Which means?


        More shoe shops.


        And then we reach what point?


        The point where I press the button again.


        Oh, all right.


        Wa-hoo! Ahhhh… So nice, that’s really nice!


        And then we reach what point?!


        The Shoe Event Horizon! The whole economy overbalances; shoe shops outnumber every kind of shop! It becomes economically impossible to build anything other than shoe shops, and bingo, I get to press the button again!




        Wait for permission! Now, what’s the final stage?


        Umm. Every shop in the world ends up as a shoe shop.


        Full of?


        Shoes that no one can wear.




        Famine, collapse, and ruin. Any survivors eventually evolve into… birds and never put their feet on the ground again.


        Excellent! End of Lesson. You may press the button.

        1. hplasm

          Re: Feet like flippers?

          +1 For longest post ever.

          Did read.

          1. psychonaut

            Re: Feet like flippers?

            didnt read, but know it off by heart anyway....thumbs up

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Feet like flippers?

          "I also like Hush Puppies."

          I used to. They were the only shoes I could ever buy that fit properly, felt like I was wearing slippers and walking on air, and could walk out of the shop wearing them safe in the knowledge of not getting blisters. Then one day the inevitable happened. I bought a pair and they were the same shite you get everywhere else.

        3. Joe 37

          Re: Feet like flippers?

          Where's the tip of the hat to Douglas Adams?

    2. gregthecanuck

      Re: Feet like flippers?

      Count me as another fan of Clarks extra wide sizes. They "get it" and the shoes are very well made and durable.

      Paddle on dear traveller, paddle on.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Feet like flippers?

      re "In the UK shoe manufacturers just don't seem to understand wide feet."

      You are wrong, there are some manufacturers, who are VERY well aware of this issue. The problem is, that MOST shoes you see in the shops are ordered by "manufacturers' off the shelf, so to speak, in China (yeah, they have smaller feet, don't they! ;), and they don't give a flying monkey f... about width. It's about "optimising the cost" and "piling them high - and cheap". Think spam, think mass-mailing spam, versus targeted stings. It's much cheaper to flood the market with one-width footware, rather than have them tailored, widthwise.

      That said, if you want wide, then you pay a premium not only to cover the expense to the manufacturer of making various width shoes in the same model, but also, you pay for the privilage of being served by people who know something about shoe-fitting, and these are rare. Ultimately, you also pay for the fact that to find somebody who knows something about fitting shoes, you have to walk into one of the overpriced shops, and you pay for their high-street, overpriced presence :(

    4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Feet like flippers?

      Okay, now I have to ask:

      Oh great and mighty Aleister Dabbs, are thy toes webbed as well?

      But yeah, can't shop for shoes online if you want them to be a comfy fit. Wasn't there a startup or a kickstarter for a 3D feet scanning device to fix that a couple of years ago, or am I imagening things?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Feet like flippers?

        I knew someone who had (slightly) webbed feet. When he was little his father used to make him show them to visitors with the explanation that they had developed that way to assist walking over boggy ground.

        Did I mention he was Irish ?

    5. m0rt

      Re: Feet like flippers?

      "I can't even get proper cycling shoes with pedal cleats."

      Mentioned in a previous post, but I ended up with SiDi MTB Dominator 5 Fit Mega in a 45.5 size. I use them on a road bike, so in doing so break Rule #34.

      For walking boots, or motorcycle boots, I recommend Alt-Berg who will also customise the fit, for a very little difference in price. If you turn up.

      For normal shoe width fittings, you require a proper Shoe manufacturer in the UK, (Clarkes aside), like Loakes or some such. Or Redwing with the relevent width fit. (9 EE for me).

      For reference, in your run of the mill shoes, 10-10.5 is the usual size I need to buy.

      Proper fitting footware is a must.

    6. PhilipN Silver badge

      LLoyds Extra Wide

    7. scruffygit

      Re: Feet like flippers?

      I'm a size six-and-a-half in EEEE fitting. The only place I can reliably get shoes that fit is They provide scales that you can print out to measure your feet, and I've been very happy with the shoes I've had from them -- no more buying seven-and-a-halfs and then walking around feeling like a clown :-)


  5. Dr_N

    Find the shoe(s) that fit...

    And just keep buying variations of the same from Amazon or someone when the old pair wears out.

    Sizing problem solved.

    Outlet stores in the US are a good place to pick up cheap, shoes/boots/trainers in half sizes.

    Just don't forget colonial sizes aren't the same as Imperial ones.

    Didn't SAP roll-out of stock control at Levi's stores/warehouses in the US nearly bring the company to its knees?

    1. stucs201

      Re: keep buying variations of the same

      I did have several pairs of the exact same style in a row (the best fitting shoes I ever had). Then one year they discontinued them. I still wish I'd stockpiled a supply of spare pairs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Find the shoe(s) that fit...

      > Didn't SAP roll-out of stock control at Levi's stores/warehouses in the US nearly bring the company to its knees?

      Yes. A 98% drop in revenue for the quarter. Result!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Find the shoe(s) that fit...

      "Find the shoe(s) that fit...

      And just keep buying variations of the same from Amazon or someone when the old pair wears out."

      i do this with almost all of my clothes which is why most of the time I look like a walking advert for (top to bottom) Superdry, levis and Adidas. Except from when Im at the gym which is under Armour and nike - nothing else fits right.

      Now that we have dispensed with the day time stuff lets talk evening wear... Sorry is this a technology site I got a bot carried away :)

  6. stucs201

    I like the 'ruler' better than the automatic machine

    Since I've got a relatively high instep the automatic machine which only measures width was useless at getting the correct fitting. The ruler does much better since the attached tape measure measures circumference (at least in shops that do 'width' fittings).

  7. Cosmo

    Floor standing foot measurers

    I can't remember now, but weren't those massive floor standing machines that we loved as kids rapidly withdrawn because they were pumping us full of X-rays?

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Floor standing foot measurers

      After the X-Ray machines (perhaps more dangerous to the operators, who got it all day), there was a machine that just slid metal bars in from all sides to gently grip your foot and report a measurement. a bit of a gimmick, but so was the X-Ray machine.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Floor standing foot measurers

      You can see one of those x-ray machines in The Billion Dollar Brain. Michael Caine (Harry Palmer) uses it to check a dodgy thermos he is supposed to bring to Finland.

      The Billion Dollar Brain is a gigantic computer centre full of late 1960ies state-of-the-art machines. Tape reels, punch cards, TTY terminals, blinkenlights - the lot!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm led to believe that wide feet is an English (British?) trait.

    Before globalisation, shoes for Englishmen were made to fit our paddles. Once things started to be made for the whole world, including feminine Italian feet, compromises were made on width.

    I'm sure most readers will have the same problems, I know I do.

    1. Baudwalk

      Not only the English...

      ...I'm Danish and have feet like Donald Duck.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Not only the English...

        Scarpa are Italian and some of their walking shoes are pretty comfy for my plates, next brand I am trying.

    2. Joe Harrison

      Ted Baker shoes are good for wide feet

      as title

      1. d3vy

        Re: Ted Baker shoes are good for wide feet

        If they are priced like the shirt I bought they might be good for the feet but bad for the wallet.

      2. Kubla Cant

        Re: Ted Baker shoes are good for wide feet

        ... but not for long, I suspect. I've bought two items of leather goods from Ted Baker, and both fell apart within weeks. One was a belt - how incompetent do you have to be to fail when making a belt?

  9. Coggers

    Missing the point...

    OK, it's a good, funny take on things, but also misses the point a bit of the challenge the retailer has.

    Stock levels are never perfect. In reality, these stores will have just enough stock to satisfy the majority of customers. Stock will be in a number of places independent of the number of stock rooms - could be in the stock rooms, on the shop floor being tried on, or on the shop floor as an example of the item, as well as on the way out of the store, or on the cages coming into the store. This overlooks the inevitable 'shrinkage' that occurs in retail (or theft as it's known elsewhere) which mucks things up. So, when someone says have you got a size x in that shoe, this is not a simple look in the system and 'yes' response. It will be more of a 'yes, there's one somewhere in the store, but I can't tell you if you can have it or even look at it as someone else might be either buying it, trying it on, sending it back because it doesn't fit, or it's not really there as someone has stolen it'.

    This is further compounded by having a vast range of items on show in the store and each item can come in a range of sizes, and a limited amount of space to store them in. Once again a compromise has been considered here in terms of the range of items to show as available and the reality of keeping a full stock of all of these items in all the sizes, which simply comes down to front of store space vs back of store space. And I guess the outcome that's generally decided upon is to have a larger front of store space to show the range of products available, even if they can't carry all the sizes of each one.

    So, I doubt that the walkie talkie system is there for any other reason than the good folks that have done the T&M studies on it have found it to be highly effective, requires minimum training for what will inevitably be a high turnover of staff in the stores.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Missing the point...

      "In reality, these stores will have just enough stock to satisfy the majority of customers"

      That's the majority of self-selected customers. All those at the extremes of the distribution will go elsewhere. Unless you're a good match for the store buyer, just don't waste your time going to such places. Go somewhere that understands customers.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Missing the point...

      "This is further compounded by having a vast range of items on show in the store"

      ...and then there's places where, on asking the spotty oik if they have style X in size Y, the response is "if you can't see it we ain't got it" either because the shop floor/display *is* the entire stock or he just can't be arsed to go look.

      1. The Packrat

        Re: Missing the point...

        Payless Shoe store (don't know if they exist on the right side of the pond) is sort of like this. They have 1 or 2 of every style/colour of shoe/sandal/slipper they sell organised into sections by size. You just go to the section for your size and (hopefully) get one you like. If you find one you like but the size isn't quite right, you can usually just look to the next or previous section. No muss, no fuss (assuming you find something you like that fits). Quality's been a bit hit or miss in recent years though...

  10. M7S

    "9 wide, 6 long"

    an absolute sod when trying to find safety boots.

    Interesting to learn I'm not alone and possibly the reasons for the lack of suitable footwear

    1. short

      Re: "9 wide, 6 long"

      Safety boots are the easiest for me, given my flippers. Sure, my toes don't get within 3 inches of the end, but the steel toecap stops the front collapsing in and looking weird, and to all outsiders, my feet look a bit big but otherwise normal. It's only when I take them off that people notice that the feet are wider than they are long. Also, Steelies are handy when working with horses, cars and heavy racks, although I also have shiny ones for when I'm trying to look civilised.

      Ski-boots. Now they're the enemy.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: "9 wide, 6 long"

        Problem with your toes not reaching the end is when working at heights or along narrow beams, climbing etc you want your toes near the end of the shoe.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the retailer

    is amazing on two counts:

    1. it's still in business

    2. apparently biz is a'booming

    I honestly can't get it how they manage that. I go there on the weekend and it's next to impossible to hunt down an assistant to assist your (footwear) quest, because of the 1000 :1 punter / assistant ratio. So I walk out empty handed. Trying to outsmart their system and turning up on the week-day, when NORMAL people stay away from shops (mother-toddler-tadem doesn't count) is no better, because then trying to find a shop assistant is like hunting for red october. So I walk out empty handed again.

    And yes, when you actually pin down a writhing assistant and tell him the size you want, they won't have it in stock and no, they are unable to tell you in which other of their store they're showing stock (we were able to check stock across our retailer stores back in early 1990s!).

    That said, you CAN order the size you want online, and they will deliver to their own local store, FOR A F... FIVER, if I remember correctly. And then, you can NOT get a refund, if the shoes don't fit, nosir, you'll ge a voucher. Unforgettable experience.

    Other than emergencies, like PE snickers and other kids' stuff which they grow out of too quickly, we avoid this retailer like a plague. It's much, much better to buy a good quality stuff, because it just lasts an awful lot longer. By my count (and I am extreme, I'll use the kit until it falls off my back or feet), good quality will buy you 5 - 10 - 15 (at a push) use, as opposed to 1 - 2 years. Compare the price and it's just cheaper to buy better quality (although branded goods have gone down the route of "planned obsolescence").

    Apparently though, this un-named retailer, despite being scummy on every front, is all legit, which only proves how sorry the state of things is in this AD 2016, when such business is hailed a success. And it's a shame they were the ones to purchase Karrimor brand, which they turned into one-of-a-number-of-shitty-no-brands offered at "50% discount". Not that Karrimor was that great in its last days anyway.

    Rant off, time to go, tk-maxx, ahoy....

    1. ChrisC Silver badge

      Re: the retailer

      OTOH, if the shoes you're after are already stacked waiting for you in their "shop-floor stockrooms", then getting what you want is often no more taxing or time-consuming than grabbing a box, checking the contents match the label, and heading straight for the tills. That said, the way they then radio ahead to the security goons on the front door to let them know someone is about to walk out of the store with some paid-for stock does always make me wonder just what sort of pond-life they get shopping there such that their security needs to be warned about people *not* nicking stuff...

      I can't in fact remember the last time I've ever had to ask an assistant to go fetch me a pair of shoes from out back, it's only when we're out getting shoes for the kids where this is still a requirement - though as we normally get their shoes from Clarks (where ye olde foot measuring gizmos have been replaced by some slightly absurd combination of tablet and measuring frame, just to keep a vague IT angle here...) the experience is rather more pleasant and well-organised than from the retailer we all know who we're talking about but dare not utter their name.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: the retailer

      "I go there etc."


    3. Joe 37

      Re: the retailer

      I've been there.

      The boots that didn't last 200 miles. My opinion of Karrimor has hit the floor.

      In the RSA they used to sell neat "bullet resistant" kit. If it was of the same quality as their footwear I'd hope nobody is after me with a blow gun.

      I have a 40 year old Karrimor rucsac which is actually decent.

      Same outfit sells "Dunlop" branded boots. They are just as bad.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: the retailer

        Yeah Karrimoor were bought out, they went from a decent technical gear manufacturer in Accrington (their factory outlet for seconds was great), to being bought by Sports Direct who promptly cancelled all the guarantees Karrimoor had on their gear and moved production to China mostly, IMO the stuffs now mostly all really cheap shit trading on the name with none of the quality, wouldn't touch it with a barge pole if you are looking for something you can rely on*. I had a old karrimoor rucksack as well and it was very good but has seen a hard life and is due retirement, trying to decide on the next one to replace it.

        *Although a friend bought the Phantom Jacket and yeah it looks alright actually, but I've lost trust in them myself.

  12. Mage

    Stock Control

    Tesco have computerised stock control

    Barcodes and whatnot

    Customer cards that let them track what customers want.

    Lidl also have computer stock control.

    Yet they run out of popular items, often non-perishable, practically on alternate weeks. Baffling.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Stock Control

      Just too much JIT low stock, replenish supply as needed cult

      Flawed logic that they can cut overheads by carrying very little stock & topping up as needed falls apart if a slight surge in sales as, due to lag in getting physical product into the store, the tiny amount of "spare" stock in store is rapidly exhausted.

      It''s not just tsunamis that screw up JIT systems ( JIT methods that revolve around keeping low stock levels are poorly suited for products where demand varies unpredictably and variation can be considerably more than stock level

      Some of it is deliberate though, e.g. product on special cheap offer, store makes no effort to get in lots of stock, instead empty shelves with the big offer sign & irritated punters not able to get the advertised bargain but store hopes they will buy other stuff.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stock Control

      Don't overestimate the ability of high street stock control. I know (because my employer wrote it) that one high street retail chain now uses data mining to work out when it's no longer selling things that it should be selling lots off (think essentials like milk/bread) and then flags up that they might have empty shelves. As a customer of un-named place I know roughly when I need to go there to be sure they have stock and when to avoid as they most likely won't have. If I know this surely the staff do. There is a link from barcode to stock level in the warehouse but not to the level that something's telling them they've sold 20 so they need to put another 20 back on the shelves asap.

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Stock Control

        "one high street retail chain now uses data mining to work out when it's no longer selling things that it should be selling lots off (think essentials like milk/bread) and then flags up that they might have empty shelves"

        I saw a documentary about one of the big supermarkets (forget which one) and they do this with bananas. Apparently we Brits eat billions of bananas a year, they are in almost continual movement from the shelves to the checkouts. If no bananas are sold for a few minutes a stock alarm goes off somewhere and a banana-monitor is dispatched to check and refill the shelves.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Stock Control

          How does that work then? The gap between passing the place where the bananas ought to be and getting to the checkout sans bananas can be at least a quarter hour, and if the missus is being particularly inquisitive at the shelves I get bored at, maybe a half hour.

          Unless I've just gone in for bananas, of course, but usually I visit once a week and want everything.

          #Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today!

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Stock Control

          "a banana-monitor is dispatched"

          I WANT THAT JOB!!!!

          How cool would it be to tell people your job title :-)

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Stock Control

            I still think "Banana Ripener" is a much better job title.

            And yes, it is a thing!


    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Stock Control

      It's tricky. There is an office supplies/stationary retailer in Krautistan called McPaper (oh, how brilliant marketing guys can get). They expanded quite successfully in the mid 1990ies. In the late 1990ies they almost went bellyup because of their new stock control system. The idea was to use the data from the computerized checkout to keep a 'live' inventory and automatically re-order items from the depot when the number of any item in the shop dropped below a defined limit. Not a bad idea. But the way they implemented it, or rather the logistics bit of it, wasn't exactly brilliant. They literally ended up with dispatching a lorry to haul one 10 pack of sellotape to one store (but nothing else) and stuff like that.

    4. I am the liquor

      Re: Stock Control

      What drives me nuts about supermarket stock control is when they have something on special offer, and it's out of stock because it apparently didn't occur to them that they'd sell more of it.

      1. GrumpenKraut

        Re: Stock Control

        > ...special offer, and it's out of stock ...

        That was used as a trick to lure customers into shops. Some shops would actually have ONE item on offer.

        Meanwhile that's illegal, there are regulations on how much you must minimally have (location: Krautistan). At least the larger chains seem to have stopped that trick. I once even got an item brought into the shop I was from another (had to wait a couple of hours and come back to pick it up).

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stock Control

      "Yet they run out of popular items, often non-perishable, practically on alternate weeks. Baffling."

      I thought it was a deliberate ploy to (a) get you going in more frequently and (b) stock up.

      Now our Lidl has this problem: They seem to receive soya milk in cartons which contain half sweetened and half unsweetened. Unfortunately we live in a happening, trendy, greenish town full of people who (a) buy soya milk and (b) won't buy anything sweetened. So guess which one runs out. One has to be ready to swoop when there has been a delivery and strip out a load of unsweetened. Since Lidl soya milk costs less than half the Alpro stuff and is indistinguishable, there is significant financial benefit to this approach.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Stock Control

        "One has to be ready to swoop when there has been a delivery"

        The same applies to Quark at the local Morrisons. I discovered that there are Slimming World meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the area. Guess which days you can't find Quark in Morrisons :-)

  13. Tim Hughes

    Duo Boots had a good solution

    This company sold a good selection of ladies boots where each foot size came in 20+ different calf sizes.

    In the shops, you couldn't actually walk out of the store with the goods - you bought them and they were delivered to your home - but what they did have was every single size combination (or at least the vast majority of) in the shop.

    It wasn't so much of a "Do you have this in size X?" as just a quick measurement and then they came back with your size and/or bracketed: one above, one below. Job done. It wasn't perfect, but a damn sight better than most experiences.

    1. d3vy

      Re: Duo Boots had a good solution


      This is what we need - glorified showrooms, however they can backfire!

      Most of my purchases are online anyway, its only expensive stuff that I want to hold and play with first that I actually go out to shops to have a look at... I generally end up buying online even after that.

      A recent trip to PC world (I know, I know...) was one of the occasions that this backfired - basically it was friday 5pm and I got a PO for some urgent work that needed done that weekend to do this I needed a replacement desktop PC *. I went in with the intention of spending around £500 on something with at least an i5 in it.

      After looking over the PCs on display and making my selection I was told that they don't keep them in stock and I'd have to order on line for delivery on monday. The same was true of any decent spec/moderately expensive machine because they just don't shift in numbers that warrant having them in stock.

      A friend had a similar experience when trying to buy a surface 4 pro.

      Too expensive to stock, order it on line.

      In both cases above they lost sales to other suppliers, I needed mine there and then so went on eBay and bought the first thing within 10 miles that was buy it now that met my needs (It was out of business hours by this point) and collected it that night. my friend decided to hold out for a SB instead.

      * Why I needed a replacement PC is a long story...

  14. Mage


    Impossible often to get less than a man's UK 6.5 (40 or 41 possibly) and many shops start at UK 7 for men (41 or 42). Adult men's feet go from 5 to 12 I think.

    It's worse for women. Almost nothing above a UK 7. Women with 7 and larger feet often have to wear men's trainers, or "ugg style" boots (these are often a size larger than marked and wide), or hiking boots etc. Plenty of women have broader feet too.

    Children's shoes are narrower and often stop at UK 5 (about a 38?), though I think there is an Irish VAT thing where kids shoes have no VAT and Adults do.

    Almost everyone I know (women and men) find that while an Adult shoe is proportionally wider and wider at UK 5 and UK 6 than a kids shoe, they are too skinny and wrong shape.

    Feet wider near toes and very short toes are common. Shoes do not seem to be designed for Europeans.

    1. stucs201

      Re: Shoes

      Having relatively short (but wide) feet there was a time I used to save quite a bit on shoes by having the 'kids' option (no VAT), from a retailer with width fittings and half sizes. That was back when there was much less of a styling difference between adult and kids shoes than is typical now - it's not something I can often get away with any more.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shoes

      @Mage - bravo, well said! And what REALLY ticks me off is that almost anything you can find for women in larger sizes will almost certainly be some kind of horrid fashion disaster.

      Forget footwear for special nights out - what most of us want for general wear is footwear that's comfortable. Simple black or brown low-heel court shoes with decent support of the arch fit the bill perfectly for the offfice, and sandals that have one strap around the back of your ankle and two wide ones creating an X across the top of your foot will do for outside in good weather. Keep teh design simple, and colours neutral, and whilst it might not be quite what you;d like, at least it won;t make you cringe.

      But is that what we get? Oh, no - size 10 with a 4 inch heel courts (women with feet THAT big tend to be on the heavy side - which means the heels won't last much more than 5 minutes) or flats so frumpy and with such a messed up range of colours mashed in there that even a semi-blind nonagenarian would puke at them for being too frumpy. Alternatively, thong sandals or flip-flops in a vibrant migraine-inducing colour with some random word printed on them and a supposedly decorative piece of tat that not only destroys any shred of aesthetics the things might've had, but is also guaranteed to prod into your foot and give you a blister you wouldn;t otherwise have had.

      End result - it's army-surplus boots or 'trainers' for me, this last decade or two. The boots aren;t that comfy unless I wear a couple of pairs of socks and add insoles, and the trainers are humungously comfy but generally rather 'loud' in appearance - and twice the price that sensible affordable court shoes used to be thirty years ago.

      I almost wish a law could be passed forcing footwear retailers to offer a standard range of well-made sensible footwear of all sizes from teeny tiny up to 15s in at least three width options (preferably five), but given the governments we've had this last forty years, I can;t imagine any of the options available government-wise wouldn't bugger it up trying to draft a suitable law. Not that they care, they can all afford to have bespoke shoes made,on their salaries, the b******s.


    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Shoes

      Well Mage since most shoes are now made in Asia, the problem might lie there.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Shoes

      "many shops start at UK 7 for men"

      And many also seem to stop there.

      1. Joe 37

        Re: Shoes

        I have small feet. And my left foot is half a size bigger than my right.

        And size 7 men's shoes are hard to find.

        If getting them made for you didn't cost such stupid money......

      2. Joe 37

        Re: Shoes

        Best fitting boots I've ever had were issued to my grandfather in 1916 after the last pair rotted off his feet at the Somme.

        I was seriously unhappy when they fell apart.

        I've a narrow heel and a wide foot - and small feet. Apparently in 1916 this was normal.

        Doesn't seem to be now.

  15. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Brannock device

    Does England not have these? I learned to measure feet with one when I was about 8, and they're pretty damn spot on. They instantly measure both the length and the width of the foot. The latest ones have both American and Euro size scales.

    Also, any American shoe store with that sort of "service" would have a "space for rent" sign outside in about two months. They'd get a 9-1/2 and a 10 and bring it out, no questions asked, and probably D & E widths in both.

    1. stucs201

      Re: Brannock device

      That would be the 'ruler' referred to in the article.

      The best ones though are not the standard brannock device, but ones with a tape measure for the width. The standard brannock device (like the automated floor-standing machine) doesn't account for the height of the instep.

  16. Andytug

    I too have very wide feet

    On the old machine with the slidey bars when I was a kid, the little target thingy never got anywhere near G (widest) it was somewhere about where J or K would have been I think. Coupled with a high instep it makes getting a good fit tricky to say the least. One thing worth looking at is the lacing, got a much better fit since discovering there are different lacing patterns you can use for high insteps (and other foot isues).

    I've got my last few pairs from "Shoe Tailor" ( as they do extra wide fittings, and they also do larger women's sizes for the wife (who is a size 9, the shops nearly all stop at 8).

  17. John Miles

    One thing I hate

    Go into the shop, find a pair of shoes I like, then find a pair of the right size - only to see they have put the security tag through the shoe - sorry, even if it is hidden in a pattern cut out I am not buying it if it is damaged

    1. d3vy

      Re: One thing I hate

      ARRRG - Shops that put the security tag on the inside of the waist of their jeans!

      How the fuck they expect you to try something on with a pointy lump of plastic digging into your hip bone is beyond me.

      Also unrelated to shoes, I can totally sympathise with you all... After spending years trying to find 28" waist 34" leg jeans... I gave up and just ate more until I could fit in a 32x34...

      1. paulf

        Re: One thing I hate

        That's one thing that annoys me for similar reasons as I often struggle to find trousers/jeans long enough for me because I'm not wide enough!

        Why do they automatically assume people get taller as their waist line gets wider? Humans are a diverse bunch - you can have fat short people just like you can have thin lanky people.

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: One thing I hate

          I can relate paulf, but look around you. The default common configuration of the modern world is fat and dumb.

      2. Lord-a-miytee

        Re: One thing I hate

        > years trying to find 28" waist 34"


        29"x36". That's why my only footwear for more than twenty years has been boots.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: One thing I hate

          Large ribcage is a pain in the arse as well, it's either to tight round the chest or you look like your wearing a kaftan. I had some shirts made, my god first shirts that didn't make me look like Marlon Brando in the island of Dr Moreau.

          Plus jeans when did everyone start getting skinny legs? I've put on pairs and my calves get stuck putting them on.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: One thing I hate

            I can relate to that. At 50 years old, I'm 5' 8" and weigh about 160 lbs and I can hardly get skinny jeans on my legs. It's not a style I go for but once in a while the price is tempting. It does make me wonder how much exercise "the kids" who wear get, 'cause they can't be cut for normally fit people.

  18. Denarius

    sounds familiar

    Here in the Crapital of the greater Antipodes, the local "official" industrial area is inhabited by firms who supply the odds and ends that allow borked household stuff to work again, occasionally. The number of times I would go to a firm appointed as official representative/service agent/irritant de joure for a set of consumable items, like new pads for evaporative coolers say. And be thunderstruck by said agent sternly reproving me for "not planning ahead and ordering the consumable months ago because there is always a big demand at this time of year. And no, none in stock, you have to order them first." Typical of Oz crapital, the customer is always a damned nuisance.

    The smaller towns outside ACT have stores that seem to order in seasonal stuff before demand picks up. Without SAP even.

    I digress. Getting shoes and shirts that fit is difficult for me also. Can't believe the standard world is narrow chested round shouldered weeds with skinny short feet. Most difficult it is to buy motorcycle boots suitable for adult male humans. As for standard sizes, classic statement about standards applies. So many to choose from.

    1. CustardGannet

      'evaporative coolers'

      As a Podean of the British variety, I did briefly think you were talking about some obscure IT hardware device.

      I understand you also have a thing called 'sun lotion' ?

      > > > The summer one, with the DWR coating, thanks.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: sounds familiar

      Your shirt problem - have a butchers at - the shirts are a decent quality and made to measure. Much cheaper than a highstreet tailor. Delivery costs are a bastard though.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: sounds familiar

      "Most difficult it is to buy motorcycle boots suitable for adult male humans."

      I've seen the series of documentaries about typical life in Australia and everyone seems to wear motorcycle boots. I think it was mainly following the life of some bloke called "Mad Max" who seems to be some sort of local celebrity. At least I think so. He always seems to have lots of people chasing him for his autograph.

  19. Alien8n


    Used to buy relatively cheap shoes at £20 to £30 a pair, but found I was replacing them every 3 months due to a job that entailed a lot of walking. Decided to get a pair of New Rock shoes for £73 (reduced from £184). In over 2 years the shoes are still going strong. had new soles once and protect the heels with the metal protectors that you can buy for a few quid. Have to replace them every few months, but they've already paid for themselves no end of times since buying them. I'll never buy cheap shoes ever again.

    1. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re: Quality

      This is known to a number of El Reg commentards as the "Sam Vimes boots theory"..


      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Quality

        It's true for most clothing (if its not the sort that is a fashion label which adds price) spent a fortune on a mountain jacket, over it's life it's probably been about £15 a year, has never looked fashionable when coming out of a club for example, but 4am in the morning in Manchester stuff fashion, I'd rather not have hypothermia. Also you get to feel really smug when you get those odd winters when a couple of foot of snow drops in the day, all transport stops and you end up walking home.

  20. Franco

    I have the same issue with suits. I'm 6 feet tall, near enough, but have a 29" inside leg. If I was in proportion I'd be 5'5" or 6'7". Shops often tell me that you have very short legs for your height sir, as if I had reached my current age without being aware of this. Consequently attempts to buy off the shelf suits result in trousers that are far too long, and jackets that fit perfectly across the shoulders but end at the navel.

    Thankfully my local gentleman's outfitter offers free alterations and you can order online, so I don't need to be told once again about my very short legs.

    1. Vinyl-Junkie

      Ah, a fellow sufferer from what is variously known in our family as "Duck's disease" or "The Curse of the Seagoons" !

      Have a pint in sympathy, sir!

      1. Franco

        Common affliction amongst rugby players, at least at my old club, although it was referred to as Stubby Wee Bastard syndrome.

        1. Vinyl-Junkie

          Curiously I too am a former rugby player!

    2. Graham Newton

      The reply is

      "Well they are long enough to reach the floor!"

      1. Alien8n

        Re: The reply is

        There is a similar affliction among some of the metalhead community. Quite a few have fairly slim builds, but with the neck muscles of an ox. Try finding a slim fit shirt with a 20 inch neck...

        (also it takes at least an extr a20 minutes to get dressed as you try to find the specific black shirt that you want to wear amongst the pile of equally black clothing in the corner of the room...)

  21. 27escape
    Thumb Up

    A tech startup called Shittr

    That must exist, surely?

    Maybe for a bluetooth or wifi connected chamber pot to analyse ones stools?

  22. Valerion

    Wide feet, no arches

    That's me. Finding shoes is a real PITF.

    My usual gambit these days is to order several styles and sizes from Sole Trader online, try them all on, find the one that fits and take the rest back into the nearest store for a refund. The bonus being that you tend to get the Quidco applied to the entire initial purchase still, thus reducing the cost of the pair you actually keep (hey it's not my fault their systems are not joined up enough!).

    FWIW, I've found Cat quite good for width and flatness. For trainers, try Sweatshop. They will stick you on a treadmill, film your feet in slow-motion and recommend you trainers that are actually what you need, and bring you out many styles and sizes to try on.

  23. Sureo

    Years ago I shopped in a Nike store that had stock elsewhere. The salesbozo had to phone for a pair of shoes, and it took 15 minutes to arrive via dumbwaiter. Due to the delay the salesbozo went off to help other customers, so it was another 10 minutes before you could actually try the shoes, which of course didn't fit. Needless to say I don't wear any Nike shoes.

  24. Vinyl-Junkie


    ....we are approaching the Shoe Event Horizon!

  25. Clockworkseer

    Unnamed Retailer

    But from the description, may be a very Direct supplier of Sports goods?

    The last shoes I picked up from there where while Karrimor still meant something.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Unnamed Retailer

      Aaah Karrimor you used to be so good.

      1. Joe 37

        Re: Unnamed Retailer

        But now are a badge of Do Not Buy Under Any Circumstances.

        I have Karrimor body armour.

        Which might resist an airgun.

  26. Barry Rueger

    In stock?

    "In fact, I’m wishing I’d just stayed at home and tried my luck ordering online. That way, I’d be able to see what stock the retailer had available within seconds"

    Maybe that works in the UK. But in Canada the words "in stock" often mean "one of our two hundred suppliers claims to have one, and maybe we'll convince them to ship you one."

    "Via UPS, who will only deliver at times when you can't be home, and refuse to do anything without a physical signature, including dropping it at the UPS store down the street."

  27. Slx

    Why do they *never* have reasonable sizes?

    I go in looking for Euro 46 / UK 11.

    Invariably I get looked at like as if I have two heads and they come out with some hideous pair of brogues.

    The result: I shop on line.

    Size 11 / 46 isn't unusual and I have been in shops where 4 guys in a row will all ask for shoes that they don't have in stock and walk off disappointed.

    Do these stores operate on the basis that everyone should simply adjust their feet to a statistical survey that was last done in the 1950s or something?

    They whine and moan about online retailers taking market share, but they continue to operate like Mrs Slocombe on Are You Being Served is still in charge.

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Why do they *never* have reasonable sizes?

      Strange, I am size 11 (UK) and never have a problem finding shoes. I've never had to resort to online footwear buying except for running shoes of my preferred model, which I know fit.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Why do they *never* have reasonable sizes?

        I am also normally a size 11, but this is basically on the very edge of what most stores seem to stock. Some don't go over Euro 45 (why I don't know as I'm quite sure size 46 is actually pretty much standard for the land of Cheese and Windmills)

        Now try finding a pair of womens heels that would fit my dainty feet! (Never let your friends record you while you are all too smashed to otherwise remember a drunken bet the next day, is all I'm saying). Impossible to find in a real store, eventually managed it online for a price that wasn't too eye-watering to keep said drunken bet

  28. ecofeco Silver badge

    Shoes are now drive thru commodities

    It used to be that outside of large discount stores, shoes were sold with service. A salesperson would measure you feet, yes, both of them, and then make intelligent recommendations based upon what you asked for and what was in stock and what came the closest if your choice was out of stock.

    And they were paid a decent living to do so. Often a damn good living.

    Now a shoe store is the equivalent of a fast food outlet, staffed by employees of the same caliber and pay and stock of the equivalent quality. I now spend YEARS looking for decent shoes. That is NO exaggeration.

    Even the fancy stores have lowered their service and quality. I would willingly pay more money, but the service and product just doesn't exist anymore, anywhere!

    Unless I want a sport shoe. Especially one in 3 colors of very bright dayglow with a very prominent brand name on it. Very comfortable shoes. Too bad they look so damn fashion victim ghetto.

    Can you tell I now HATE shopping for shoes? Just another example of how businesses have made it hard for me to give them money while complaining they can't afford to pay for decent staff.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Shoes are now drive thru commodities

      "It used to be that outside of large discount stores, shoes were sold with service."

      Yeah, and it used to be that shoes were also handmade, one at a time, by a skilled shoemaker IINM. That's where the service came from. Also the price IIRC. But the thing about inefficiency is that it's very difficult to scale, especially as the population rises. Overpopulation meant economies of scale won out.

  29. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "this massive retailer"

    That's your problem, right there. Look for a small, family-owned shop. If it's anything like those near where I live they'll even have 9 1/2s.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Where do you live that still has a family owned independent shoe shop? I don't recall seeing one in many, many years. Can I move in next door to you?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Can I move in next door to you?"

        Yes, but it's a field so you'd have to share with the other inhabitants - cattle ATM.

        The shop I had in mind was

  30. Stevie


    I have super wide feet too, and my choices for footwear in England circa 1983 were Clark's schoolkid's shoes (nar, they dun maykum in widfs for adults doo they?) or bespoke shoes by Church - who *did* maykum in widfs but charged me deep in't purse fer privilege - 'and made, see?

    Then I came to New York and discovered the joy of off-the-peg adult shoes sold not only in widths like the fabled "E", but there were "EE" and even "EEE" too if you knew who to ask. And that was just about anyone in a shoestore with a badge on.

    I had a girlfriend then who complained that at 4'11' she was faced with shopping in Italy or France or being told she had to wear kid's clothes. I remember thinking it was sad she'd given me my marching orders because if she'd come with me to NY she could walk into any clothing store and be treated like an adult human being. There were well-dressed petite ladies walking about *everywhere* (though none of them would give me the time of day on account of my clunky bespoke UK clodhoppers).

    Which was the reason I decided that although I didn't think I would be staying in New York forever (wrong) I knew bloody well that I wasn't going back to the UK where everything about the retail and service industries is too much trouble and the customer is always wrong. Douglas Adams was making a fortune writing thinly disguised books about the phenomenon, but I was done with the whole miserable affair.

  31. Chris G


    99% of shoe shops now are Fast Moving Consumer Goods shops, so they only stock sizes that are common and styles that won't stay unbought in the basement. That was always the case with the British Shoe Corporation ( Lilley & Skinners, Saxone etc) I worked in Lilley & Skinner in the Kings Rd during my summer holidays in '66 when the World cup was on in London, all of our stock then was mostly the common sizes and they turned over fast and got replaced fast.

    Anything odd that got left over used to go on a special double commission ticket that was called oddly enough, a Spliff, it had a big S overprinted on the ticket.

    As mentioned above, the money was good, I was clearing £15 a week as a school kid! None of my mates had anything like that kind of money on their holiday jobs.

    Additionally the majority of shoes that they do stock will fall apart in a week if you actually take them out of the box and do something rash like walking in them.

    That applies particularly to womens shoes if you take them back, the staff will inform you that 'they are a fashion shoe and that you must have danced/walked/ran/played sports or swiveled excessively in them'.

    Even the majority of 'Trainers' are not sports shoes as it is a Style Description; I was told that by a spotty scrote in a large retail sports store after a pair of 'Trainers' I had bought while on a visit to the UK, failed before my two weeks were up.

    As for those of us who exhibit Anatidaean traits when shoebuying, it's a bitch.

    Luckily in Spain I seem to have less problems finding wide shoes than I used to in the UK, perhaps the Spanish have a national trait of wider feet, I have also found that my feet seem to be getting wider as I get older, I started adult life as a UK 8, now I am a 9 but my feet are still the same short stubby langth they were before, the only benefit being if I drop a heavy object on the end of my shoe, my toes are nowhere near it.

  32. dvd

    Small shoe sizes.

    My wife has really small feet - size two or three. Shops never have her size.

    The assistants always say the same thing. "We only get a few small sizes in and they always sell out really quickly."

    To which I always reply "well why don't you get more in as there is obviously a demand?"

    They always look at me as if I'm from mars. Or scowl at me as if I'm the most arrogant arsehole on the planet for suggesting such a thing.

    1. tfewster

      Re: Small shoe sizes.

      Try Asda. The only sizes they have usually left are Titchy and Humungous.

      The assistants always say the same thing. "Popular sizes always sell out really quickly."

      To which I always reply "well why don't you get more in as there is obviously a demand?"

      They always look at me as if I'm from mars. Or scowl at me as if I'm the most arrogant arsehole on the planet for suggesting how they could MAKE MORE MONEY.

      On another popular theme in this thread - I tried sticking to a brand & model that had been good in the past. The operative word being "had". The manufacturers are all on the same cost-cutting death-spiral.

      On the final tactic - I've wasted lot of time finding expensive shoes that didn't last in the past, so now I just buy cheap comfortable shoes. Sorry Vimes, the cobblers have heard about your theory and warped it from "Good=Expensive" to "Expensive=Good"

  33. Jim-234

    Try these for some Wide shoes.

    You might want to take a look at these:

    ASICS Men's GEL Cumulus 17 Running Shoe

    Available from Amazon (at least in the USA)

    Try 9.5 4E or 10 4E

    You only get 1 colour to pick from in the 4E width, but it's worth it.

    I agree with wide shoes being hard to find. Wide stable feet (to help you better plow the field) run in my family it seems.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I take a different approach to the flipper problem...I buy the moccasin style ones from eBay. Cheap enough, especially if you get 2 or 3 pairs and get combined (or free) postage; and the shoes themselves are thin and light enough that they adapt to your feet, rather than the other way round. It's worked to the extent of never having got a blister so far. The trick is to always have a new pair in stock for when the current pair explode due to the stresses of packing a flipper shape into a tube.

    Might not work so well in Blighty where temperature is more of a factor.

  35. ShortLegs

    The sad fact is, British retail is crap. And because it is crap, it is in the doldrums. Retailers have forgotten the first basic rule of selling; sell what the customer wants.

    Walk into any clothes shop - be it high street (Next, Top Man, etc) or supermarket (George, F&F). Look for 32-34" waist jeans or trousers, especially in short. Nil.

    Look for Size 7-8 shoes. Nil.

    Look for 36-40" chest shirts.

    These are the most common sizes for British males. Very few retailers have sufficient stock. All season round they will have large quantities of size 10+ footwear, 44"+ waist trousers/jeans, and size XX+ tops.

    Why? Because outlets are allocated a set number of items in each size per season. Once they are sold - generally within days - [i] that is it[/i] for the season. Stock forecasting and holding is based on last years sales - which of course only show sales and not demand. So of course, each year each outlet gets 10 pairs of size 32" jeans because that is all they will sell... yes, because that's all they can sell because they haven't anymore to sell! Self licking lollipop, or circular arse-kicking exercise.

    Not one retailer has had the foresight to issue staff with a small hand-held to capture sales losses, and thus improve sales forecasting.

    In regards to the comments about how supermarkets work, ASDA use a system called OSCA - Onshelf Customer Stock Availability. It's in-store use however is used to drive sales; if a given - for example, milk, doesn't sell over a period of x minutes, an OSCA alert is raised, and the store staff investigate why milk is not selling - which could be because there is no milk on the shelve. Its not a bad system, but again it doesn't capture missed opportunities.

    And BHS wonder why they collapsed...

    1. Alien8n


      Strangely enough Primark (yes I know, surprised me as well) do a remarkably good selection of Jeans. Plenty in the 32" - 34" range. Seem to be "reasonable" quality (so far) but for a tenner each pair you can't really complain. My other jeans cost me over 100 quid (imported from the US) and even they have quality issues, not to mention a pair of 34" waist jeans having to be adjusted as they expect the average person to have giraffe legs.

    2. david bates

      Ah yes...BHS

      once you get above 40" waist you pretty much only have short leg. So unless you happen to be spherical, you're out of luck.

      Debenhams - 18" neck shirt? Yes. Tailored. Pretty much all of them. I'm not an international rugby player, so with an 18" neck tailored is going to be, well, snug.

  36. Fihart

    deal with retail drones

    I perfected this a while ago -- probably around the period I enjoyed typing "format C:" at the DOS prompt on the Amstrad computers whirring away in a Dixons branch, on the assumption that a customer might later press the Return key .

    Assistant: "Can I HELP you sir" (i.e. Go Away)

    Me: (after thoughtful pause looking Assistant up and down) "I rather doubt it."

  37. Paul Johnson 1

    There are still a few traditional shoe shops who know how to handle unusual sizes and stock a wide range. If you are in the right area I'd recommend French's of Southampton, as that is where we go.

    1. Joe 37

      If it were less than 600 miles away this might be a useful hint..

      1. Alien8n

        Check your nearest city, most cities will have an established boot maker or gentleman's outfitters that seems to hang on despite the supermarket onslaught (usually by supplying bespoke or good quality shoes to the local elite). Failing that look at some of the alternative manufacturers. New Rock are more famous for their boots for goths and metalheads, but do a remarkably good range of exceedingly high quality, hand stitched Spanish leather shoes.

        1. david bates

          Redback supply hugely comfortable elastic sided boots. They're made big, so you might have to drop half a size and based on the pair I've been wearing daily for 18 months they last and last.

 sell them

          Made in Australia, by a Greek family who employ a German expert to run the machine.

  38. paulc

    Clark's used to X-ray your kids feet...

    stick your feet in and see your toes wriggling inside the shoes...

    1. david bates

      Re: Clark's used to X-ray your kids feet...

      And then remove your socks and pick your toes up off the floor...

  39. TheProf

    Laughing at retailers

    Marks and Spencer display men's shoes on racks with the size range going from small on the top shelf to large on the bottom. The result of this is that short men with small feet can't reach the shoe they want while tall men with large feet have to contort themselves to fit into the narrow space between the racks.

    Debenhams asked me to pay for a pair of shoes in a size they didn't have in stock. If I gave them £££ they would get the shoes for me within a week. If they didn't fit I would get my money back. I didn't bother.

  40. Colin Bain

    Inventory management and sales

    Every time my wife and I go into a store (that's what we call them now we are in Canada!), we can rarely find footwear in our size. While we are in the upper range, 12 for me and 10 (or thereabouts) for the missus, there is a dearth of styles, and, more usually, inventory. Please note, we are not clowns, by profession either. Now, when I worked in retail, then I saw that certain items zipped out of the store and received multiple requests, the policy was to double the order quantity, to avoid lost sales. I believe it had something to do with profitability and service. However the pesky modern way is to sell until all that is left is size 6, which are then reduced to below cost. Despite such advances in technology where everyone and their goat can send cameras into space AND retrieve them, or fly drones into their neighbours air space with impunity, shoe retailers seem to be stuck in some weird tuck in time where logic and economic theory is based on some principle beyond human comprehension.

    Having questioned policy on many occasions at different levels, the answer is always, "It's just what they send us"

    I ahve never been able to find out who "They" are. Perhaps it is some vast experiment, or a cabal of cobblers awaiting the moment we wake up and turn back to hand made models of pedal kinetic platforms?

  41. Mupps

    10.5 and wide

    You have my full sympathy.

    May I also recommend Clarks and, if you're willing to spend the extra monies, Grenson's G is a very accommodating last.

  42. GP1

    Shoes sizes have become the random walk of life.

    On-line do what the ladies do with fashion. Order several items, the same styles in different sizes for shoes of course, and send back those that don't work out.

    For people looking for comfort and wider fittings try Padders. Their sizing is pretty consistent too.

    I'm not sure how well a computerised system could be made to work in a typical shoe shop without having over-complicated systems in place. To many try and not buy interactions. Probably impossible to get the minimum wage minions and Saturday helpers to go through a booking out and booking in procedure even if the system costs were viable. It might be something that could be made to work in a store the size of a warehouse.

    Even then a "rock solid" system might constrain trade.

    I was recently told a story about the aviation industry. An aircraft maintenance chap needed a part for a plane. Nothing too big or specialised but important to have it changed and working. His division's parts store did not have the part but the store for another division of the same company did according to their system. The plane was due to fly about 4 hours later so he checked with the other store, confirmed they had the part and could transfer it.

    He said he would drive over an pick it up as the best option for making sure the plane would be ready on time. So off he went.

    He got the part, checked it was correct and was then told he could not take it away - it had to be delivered to him via their multi stage parts management system which would involve several IT transactions with a wait time between each one and the use of the company's airport wide delivery service for security. All in all it was likely to take at least 12 hours and most likely the part would not arrive until the following day.

    The chap left empty handed, the plane had to be kept out of service and, presumably, an alternative plane had to be found from somewhere or the flight cancelled. Such is the efficiency of what people think of as integrated systems.

    Many years back I was visiting a client who complained that our Inventory and repairs tracking system had a serious fault and their stock counts corrections were going wrong again within a few days.

    After printing a very long report relevant to the problem data and following a rather excellent evening wining and dining in Paris I spent a couple of hours poring through the printout and the problem became clear.

    They were providing a service to a customer for rapid exchange of printers installed at the end of supermarket checkouts. The printers failed regularly. The target was a 12 hour swap service with the printers, individually tracked by parts movement and serial number, traced back through the transport system and warehouse drop off points to the centralised repair operation. And out again after repair. In other words the movements could be completely audited rather than just stock checked.

    Receiving at a loication was, assuming the prior simply steps had been taken, a single click,. Got it ... but it also allowed people to create new serial numbers not previously know to the system - as you would expect for a repair company doing third party work.

    It turned out that the chap in one of the receiving locations did not understand the system (nobody had "trained" him he claimed, and had decided that he needed to create a new record each time a printer arrived. Sometimes that was necessary of course. But where a printer had already become known to the system when he tried to create the record and enter the serial number the system would warn him. Not knowing any better he simply created a variation of the serial number and "created" a new printer. (Or sometimes misskeyed the serial number anyway with the same result - "standards" were not well understood at the time.)

    So some printers disappeared for a time and new ones miraculously appeared.

    After repair many items were correctly reported as "good" and came back into the system at the repair centre having previously been "lost" after their last known location in the transit route.

    There were, of course, some simply procedural and training solutions to the problem. Or they could have looked at a more technical solution and equipped everyone in the chain with bar code writers and readers but I think the mobile aspect of that was not really available cost effectively at the time, unlike today. The scale of serialised item repair tracking they were dealing with could not have justified the cost and effort when compared with the need to "re-educate" one or two people at a specific location.

    How many shoe boxes are extracted from their stock location, opened, unpacked, tried, rejected and then put back into the "system" on the shop floor waiting to be re-packed and returned to a store shelf somewhere later in the day? Each step of that transaction would, potentially, need to be recorded once the process analysts got to work.

    Amazon might be able to work at that level. Not sure about anyone else.

  43. IanCa

    db shoes /

    they have a factory shop in northampton where you can try on all manner of wide sizes - E, EE, EEE, V.

    Clarks "so-called extra wide" mens shoes in a size 9.5 or 10 used to just about fit me but not any more. Since discovering DB shoes - and that I am really an 8.5 long but extra-extra-wide and extra-tall - I would never go anywhere else. Drove to northampton one day a few years back tried them all on, since then I mail order the same size when they wear out, job done. Price point is a little more than clarks but nowhere near hand made territory. For hiking boots alt-berg. Go to a specialist who has the wide and extra wide, and they can modify them by moulding the leather around the bony bits... I can recommend blackburns in huddersfield.

  44. Valerion


    I was unfortunate enough to visit one of their stores on the weekend, and witnessed a customer approach a member of staff, hand them a shoe, ask if they had it in a size 9, and then He scanned it with some form of device, and it told him they were in stock!! .

    I was shocked.

    Dabbsy - your reach is large and quick.

    ^^^ Not a euphamism.

  45. J__M__M

    yeah, right

    So if they would have been computer-eyes-duh, it would have been a very similar story with the exact same net result.

    Says we have four pair in stock... huh, that's weird.

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