Are we paying too much for shoes?

I went into sweatshop and tried on some shoes. Good service and good shoes but the average price was £95.
I know that on-line, current shoes can average 20% cheaper but in this day of mass marketing (made in china) why are we paying so much for shoes and in particular why do they pay a lot less in the US?

Are we being ripped off?


  • You pay what they think you can tolerate. If a market will pay 95 quid and still shift a million units then why go cheaper?

    When you stop buying and they can't shift the qty then the prices fall.

    Ripped off? How? You choose to buy the trainers. You are only ripped off if there is a price fixing cartel forcing prices up across the board.

    I can't see this sticking with e-tailers offering product from other areas.

    Also - The EU imposes a tariff on items made anywhere other than France and as a result this forces the ticket price up.
  • You have to consider all the costs involved in R & D into new shoes, the technology involved etc. As far as trainers being cheaper in US, so are many goods, could be that their import duties for that product are much lower than ours, and shipping costs could be cheaper.
    I still reckon we're being ripped off though!
  • fat buddhafat buddha ✭✭✭
    you're only being ripped off if you BELIEVE you're bing ripped off.......

    the US/Europe price differences are common across a whole range of products areas not just running shoes and the WTA have yet to address this disparity as the difference is not solely down to import duties and tariffs....

    BUT - shops offer a service such as allowing you to try different shoes, advice, high rent overheads - what is generally called good customer service - and for that you should pay higher than internet prices which are generally selling on volume and price with lower margins and low overheads......

    sweatshop have their own online retailer - joejogger I believe - so they can sell products based on both business models.....and keep as much business as possible in the group rather than lose internet sales to the likes of wiggle or similar
  • I always wait until the updated model comes out and buy the old model as they seem to be about £20 cheaper and buy on line which saves another £20, so I end up paying around £50 for a pair of running shoes that started at £90.

    £50 for a pair sounds about right to me.

    What I have found is that Asics seem very exspensive compared to other manufacturers at the moment.

  • To be honest, running is the one thing that I really enjoy and if I have to pay £100 every year to enable me to do it, I don't consider it an expensive hobby.
  • The research and development costs have often been cited but shoes in the main are a product of evolution and not revolution, so any development costs are incremental not massive.
    Silent Assassin makes a good point about outgoing shoes being much cheaper. If they are sold with a profit at close to half the original price, what on earth is the mark up on a new pair of shoes?!!
  • I seem to remember an article in an old runners world from years back about the cost of running shoes, seem to remember it being something like this,

    For a £100 pair

    £5 for R&D
    £15 for materials
    £10 for construction
    £5 for transportation
    £10 profit (from this the company has to fund its offices, wages for staff, sponsorship for athletics)
    £5 administration cost ????????

    The shoes are generally SOLD to the shop at half the RRP from this the shop break down is

    £50 Purchase price
    £25 shop overheads (rent, electricty, rates, promotion etc)
    £15 wages for staff
    £10 profit

    The point to remember is that most people go into business to make a profit and that the manufacture is trying to make a profit the shop are trying to make a profit, as runners for some reason we seem to believe that they are there for our benfit and that we should be entitled to the shoes at cost price.

  • Basic rule seems to be that a "figure" is set for the RRP on shoes (and lots of other things like electronic goods), then a currency added to the front.
    e.g. price = 95
    US = $95
    EU = €95
    UK = £95

    However, as people have pointed out, if you pay that much then that's your choice...some of the cost goes towards the "expertise" of the person at sweatshop, and you are perfectly within your rights to ask them if they will match an online price, and to go elsewhere if they won't.

    Suppose we just have to wait until the exchange rate is such that the UK is cheapest, but we can't afford to go on holiday! lol
  • I'd never pay £95 for a pair of shoes. About £60 seems fine to me.

    Is the US any cheaper ? What are their salaries like in comparison to ours ? You cant just say that XX is a rip off compared to YY over in such a country.

  • Cougie, why not. The shoes are nearly all made in China. Shipping costs apply equally to all countries. Material costs are the same for both countries.
    Distribution costs if anything are greater in the US (being much bigger)
    We pay 17.5% VAT (correct me if I am wrong but the US is not nearly as high)
    OK there may be some differences but not enough to justify a 50-75% price hike.
    Perhaps I am in the minority on this but worth discussing!
  • Chris.52Chris.52 ✭✭✭
    As it happens there's a table in today's Metro showing incomes in industrial countries. Our average is £32690, USA is £41950 (that's GBP). Of course I know that an average is practically meaningless.
  • I'm just buying some US kit - its only marginally cheaper than it is over here when you take into account postage.

    Maybe you'd also need to factor other stuff in too - dont the Americans have 10 days holiday rather than our 20 or 25 ?

    And they have to suffer Bush. Maybe the UK isnt that bad after all.

    You'd be better off running in New Balance and stocking up on cosmetic seconds from their factory stores. Its about £30 a pair from there. Well worth the trip.
  • Most sports kit has a mark-up of ~50%, which is common across other retail sectors too (I've worked in a bike shop & hardware shop).
    Bike kit markup tends to be from ~30% (bikes - generally fairly low markup) to ~60% (clothes - highest markup).
  • The US is much cheaper than the UK for a lot of sports/luxury items, although not everything.

    The disposable income of people with fairly normal appears to be higher than many 'professional' people in the UK and many people do get similar holiday entitlement.

    We appear to pay much more tax here, but receive reasonable health care and help from the government no matter how poor we are.

    I enjoyed visiting the mid-west last year, though, I bought loads of things!
  • really interested where i can get a margin of 50% on shoes...... the average seems to be sub 40% depending on the brand and the numbers you put down on the forward order.

    now i am a small player in this game so the large retailers who buy loads of shoes will get more discount therefore make more profit per pair than i do, do they offer better levels of customer service? i doubt it. Do they offer the local running club support with races? some do some don't.

    it is just the way of the world, people assume due to the nature of out business that shoes will be more expensive than a standard running shop, in fact we keep the prices a low as we can [allowing for the rent etc] and then discount them as soon as they are out of date[colour changes usually!!!]

    the price of an average shoe sits around £75-£80, as someone has already said 'not too much to pay' as you will probably get through 1-2 pairs a year depending on milage, there are many gyms or health clubs that charge that much for 1 months membership [/shock]
  • Hi, I work for Sweatshop Brierley hill (Birmingham).
    The average price for a good quality running shoe in Sweatshop is around £75. If you want a top spec running shoe then yes the average price is around £95 (except for asics). A large chunk of the mark up is taken up by provision of excellent customer service.
    Including staff training, suitable pay to ensure trained staff stay, time taken to fit a customer with a pair of shoes( average time being 45min), supporting of local running community for example race sponsorship and no quibble returns policy on shoes customers are not happy with. There are cheaper ways to run a business (by removing many of the above) but in the end you pay your money and take your choice.
    Another point is shoe price also depends on what type of gait you have. If you are a neutral runner (just cushioning) you can generally get cheaper shoes. If you over -pronate then shoes are usually more expensive because of the level of technology in the shoes.
    On a more general point when compared to other sports eg tennis or cricket,running is a cheap sport to participate in (part of it's attraction).
  • Never pay more than £35 quid.Been running 10 years,ran london last year not even a blister.So many people get conned.
  • Zola Budd didn't spend much on them either if i remember.
  • Maybe she should have spent a bit more - she dropped out of the FLM last time she did it ! ;-)
  • About to go over to Sweatshop to see what they've got but may then buy on-line. In the past I've tended to look at whats in the sale, in my size and feels ok but since I'm now marathon training I think I'll be more choosy as long as my pocket can stand it.
  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭
    Are shoes really that much these days? Blimey I must be out of touch - I've never paid much more than £50 myself - tend to buy from Derby Runner who give a 10% club discount and then look for something fairly cheap.
  • Derby Runner is excellent I have to say!

    In relation to the arguments above, a lot of research in different markets indicates that UK prices are indeed much higher than in US and some other markets. Say 10-20 per cent depending on the market.

    Manufacturers claim that the market here will STAND higher prices (i.e. people will pay more) and that the supply chain is longer and with higher overheads (which is mostly untrue in say the automotive sector and software licensing, which are well investigated).

    Best way to get reasonable prices is to be member of a good affiliated running club and take the discount at LOCAL shops, normally 10 percent. They are normally staffed by runners and people who know the kit, unlike telesales staff in some of the distance selling companies. Not everyone has that luxury though.

    Some distance retailers are not passing on their lower overheads to customers, and some are. Shop around, and a pattern quickly shows up. You also have to pay postage, be in to receive the goods and deal with occasionally obstructive companies who assume you won't apply the Distance Selling Regulations 2000 when they fail to deliver. Don't forget it is the vendor who is responsible for delivery and ensuring you get your goods.

    Buying direct from the US is difficult, and unlikely to be cheaper with postage and the possibility of customs duties.

    If you run or know anyone running a race in the US, stock up! The market here is unlikely to change significantly.

  • all this talk of differences between the US and here and no-one's mentioned the obvious one - size!
    The USA is a MASSIVE country, so much bigger than the UK so how many units do you think are sold by companies? Millions? Hundreds of millions? How many recreational runners are there in the USA?
    It's down to economies of scale - if the USA sells millions more units (of trainers) than in the UK then prices will be cheaper. This applies to anything that is sold compared to the UK. That's why it pays so well to have a product that can sell in the USA....
  • Hi, I live in the Cayman Islands, that's just over an hours flying time to Miami. I ordered a pair of Saucony trainers from a shop in Miami and they cost me US$124 and the shipping cost me $60.I paid duty here of CI$31.00 (US$36.90)My total cost US$ 220.90
    I find this expensive but on the other hand I look at it if I don't look after feet then I wouldn't be running anywhere. You can always run cheaply in shorts & t-shirts but your feet are your most expensive outlay.
  • <investigates setting up running shop in the Cayman Islands>
  • Cayman Islands is very expensive, also I would like to point out that the US goods would seem cheaper as the pound is currently very strong against the dollar.
  • I was running in a pair of £25 Addidas shoes that I got from JJB (or similar). Got a few blisters but no major problems.

    Now I've got the Asics GT2something or others (£70-odd worth) and I've got ITBS and a back injury.
  • I have to admit, I have run in cheaper shoes quite adequately but I do not find them durable i.e I get less than 150miles out of them. So really miles per pound is an important factor.
  • I suppose you can only be ripped off if you part with the money and pay more than retail price. The cost of R&D etc will influence the end price but at the end of the day the manufacturers/shoe shops will charge as much as they can get away with - Have you ever noticed how women's models are always cheaper than men's - that has nothing to do with R&D, material in the shoe, transportation costs - it's all about supply and demand and charging as much as they can get away with.

    I never buy this years model and always shop around - I am only loyal to the shop that offers me the cheapest price at the point I need new shoes.

  • Matchstick Man: Economy of scale has bugger all to do with it. I live and work in dollar economy (UAE) and pay pretty much the same price for running shoes as charged in the USA. Now Dubai is a city of 1.5 million there are only approximately 500 people here who run Competitively, factor in another couple of thousand who don't compete and you still have a small market. Even when you factor in tourists the number of sales isn't going to be huge.

    So if we remove economy of scale and as already pointed out shipping costs from China don't vary a lot when your shipping by teh container load then the influence on pricing has to be tax, overheads, and profit margin.

    Dubai has no sales / VAT tax so theres 17% off but still doesn't allow for the 50% difference in price to the UK. Overheads.. Shop rents will be as high as the UK but staff costs less so lets say a 20% saving.

    Still doesn't make up the difference, therefore it has to be that shops here operate on a lower profit margin.

    So do you get ripped off in the UK? Yes in my opinion BUT as someone did point out if you go a specialist running shop in the UK you will get quality service whereas here discussion on shoe Characteristics ends with the colours available.
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