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Save Big: Repairing vs. Replacing Shoes

Updated: Jan 30, 2022

America’s footwear market is the largest in the world, with revenue amounting to almost $80 billion in 2017. When we think about typical big spenders on footwear, most of us picture the stereotypical image of women so often depicted in media, shoe addicted with arms full of shopping bags as they leave the mall. Interestingly enough, men spend almost the same amount on shoes as women do per year, and men’s dress shoes are actually more expensive than women’s, costing an average of $190 more per pair. Among both men and women of all age groups, the average person buys about 8 pairs of shoes per year, and spends an average of $417 on footwear per year, with 35-44 year olds taking the cake, spending over $600 on shoes annually.

Leather shoes can cost anywhere from $40 to $400 or more, and depending on their quality and how well they’re maintained can last for months or years. The average pair rings up to about $220 and lasts about 6 months with regular wear, leading to the assumption that consumers aren’t just collecting 8 new pairs of shoes per year, but rather replacing their worn-down ones. But while it feels satisfying to step into a brand new pair of Oxfords, it feels even better when we get that same gratification without burning a hole in our pockets.

Average annual expenditure on footwear by age in the US 2019

Average Savings

If the average person buys 8 pairs of shoes at a total cost of $417 per year, then they are spending approximately $52 per pair. Assuming that half of those purchases are replacements for 4 pairs bought at the start of the year, if you were to repair them instead, at an average cost of $20 per pair, you’d save $128 per year. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but you save over half the cost you would’ve paid to replace every pair. And if you make it a habit, the savings add up to a total of approximately $645 in 5 years!

Dress Shoe Savings

For those of us that prefer quality over quantity, the savings are even more astronomical for just one pair of dress shoes. As mentioned above, an average pair of dress shoes costs about $220, and lasts approximately a half a year. This means replacing them whenever they’re worn adds up to $440 a year, whereas a once-a-year tune up would only cost a total of $240 the first year; almost half the cost of replacement, and only $20-$30 every year you maintain the same pair! Not only do those savings add up to $1,855 over a 5 year period, but your shoes will stay alive for years to come, giving you extra change to put in your pocket year by year.

Big Spender Savings

As mentioned above, 34-44 year olds spend the most per year on shoes out of all age groups, totaling to a whopping $600 annually. If we assume these shoppers are buying shoes at the price of $52, the amount an average consumer spends per pair of shoes, it adds up to a total of 12 pairs per year! But if half those shoes were repaired instead of replaced, yearly shoe costs go down by $180, adding up to savings of $900 over 5 years!

However, savings are greater for those who spend more per pair of shoes. Consider another shopper in this age group that buys a pair of higher quality shoes for $300, and replaces the same pair for the same price. By repairing them instead for $20-$30 once a year, the first year of owning the shoes they save about $275. But if that wasn’t enough, by repairing higher quality shoes, you avoid needing to purchase replacements for years to come. If the same pair of shoes is repaired yearly for 5 years, your annual shoe cost goes down from $600, to $30; putting you approximately $2,520 closer towards that trip you’ve been planning!

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