Women and Shoes: Preferences and Habits

Mariah Carey’s closet.  Source: Instyle

“I have about 1,000 pairs of shoes. But lots are in storage,” Mariah Carey told Instyle magazine in a 2006 interview.

How many pairs of shoes does the average woman own?  How many of our pairs of shoes do we wear regularly?  How much money do we spend on our shoes?  Do most of us really prefer to wear heels regularly?  And, since we talk a lot about shopping here, what do most women prefer to shop for?

Well, the folks at ShopSmart answered these questions (and several others) for us in the April 2011 issue of ShopSmart magazine.

Today’s post presents some of the results of a January 2011 ShopSmart survey that I know you will find as fascinating as I did.

Key Findings:

1.  How many pairs of shoes do women own?  And, how many of these pairs are worn regularly?
     On average, women own 17 pairs of shoes.  And, we typically only wear 3 of these pairs regularly.

A snapshot of my shoe collection.  I started storing shoes in their original boxes about 3 years ago.

The irony is I thought I owned 17 pairs of shoes, but after a quick count, I realized I actually own twice as many pairs (not including sneakers, flip flops, and house shoes).  

2.  How much money do women spend on average for a pair of shoes?
     On average, women spend $49 for a pair of shoes.  I guess we are not all buying Manolos!

3.  Do women really prefer to wear heels regularly?

The majority of women surveyed—39%—prefer to wear flats regularly.  Only 7% indicated that they prefer to wear high heels (i.e. 2 3/4 inches to 4 inches high) regularly.

4.  What do most women prefer to shop for?

The majority of women polled preferred to shop.  Clothing was the preferred item to shop for.  I was quite fascinated by the 27% of women who said they hated shopping.  A closer look at the data revealed that women over the age of 35 were twice as likely to report that they hate shopping than younger women.

Thanks for sharing the data with me, ShopSmart!  For more information about women’s shoe preferences and habits, pick up a copy of the April 2011 issue of ShopSmart magazine.

Curious about the Methodology?
The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households. 1,009 interviews were completed among women aged 18+. Interviewing took place over January 13 – 17, 2011. The margin of error is +/- 3.1% points at a 95% confidence level.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. March 30, 2011 / 4:28 pm

    Oh man, 17 pairs of shoes and only wear 3 regularly? That seems like a large shoes owned to shoes worn ratio. I think the only shoes I don't try and wear a lot are my off season shoes and my dressy heels for weddings and Christmas parties.

  2. Anonymous
    March 30, 2011 / 6:37 pm

    I am not going to even say how many pairs I own, but I will say that rarely wear lots of my dressier shoes and high heels b/c I walk to work. I should probably have a big ebay sale or donate about 1/2 of my shoes.

    I was also surpised that handbags were not explicitly mentioned…

  3. March 30, 2011 / 6:43 pm

    17 average, interesting.

  4. March 30, 2011 / 8:39 pm

    wow…im not even a shoe fanatic and i am over the average. but thats mainly flats and sandals so i'm on point with that part of the statistics. Very good post.

  5. March 31, 2011 / 1:22 am

    I laughed when I hear that study. I own over 90 and never wear the same pair twice in one week. It's my guilty pleasure. I'm not avg, YAY!! lol

  6. April 2, 2011 / 7:54 pm

    Wait – 17 pairs on AVERAGE? And only wear 3 regularly? That seems crazy. (That coming from someone who owns over 100 pairs…)

  7. April 4, 2011 / 10:35 pm

    I'm in my mid forties and I don't like shopping when its crowded. I love to shop just not when everybody else is in the store at the same time because it's hard to move around and look for what you want. I don't shop during peak hours, I do most of shopping on the weekday. I think most women over 35 would refer not to be in a crowded mall or store, but I don't think it indicates that they don't like to shop. They should have broke that question now in detail.

  8. April 6, 2011 / 3:03 pm

    @Barsola: That wear-to-own ratio is quite low. During the winter, I have noticed that I grab for the same three pairs of shoes when I am going to work. When the weather is warmer, though, my wear-to-own ration gets closer to one 🙂

    @Anonymous: Say the number! Say the number! Just kidding! I did something similar about 3 years ago, I slowly started getting rid of a lot my heels (the uncomfortable ones) because I don't wear them. Regarding the handbags, I was also surprised. Handbags were included under "accessories."

    @Sing: Isn't it though? And, I seriously thought I had about 17. Ha!

    @L of Avid Accents: It's quite fascinating to see how we measure up against the average woman.

    @Tia: Ha! 90 pairs huh? Wow!

    @Taylor: You are just above average! That wear-to-own ratio is certainly low. I think I can understand how that happens though.

    @BudgetChic: Excellent suggestion for further investigation into that finding. I also don't to shop when a store is crowded. The only other question about shopping preferences for shoes was whether women preferred to shop online or in store.