The average shoe size is on the rise—how does this affect shopping?

Getty ImagesGetty ImagesAfter reading the comments on "7 things a shoe salesman won't tell you," a recent article posted on Shine, I realized that I was not the only person frustrated with the way shoes fit (or don't fit) my feet, and the availability of shoes that fit well in stores. According to the National Shoe Retailers Association, the average shoe size has increased by a full size over the past 30 years. While the best-selling size for ladies used to be a 7.5, it's now an 8.5. The average shoe size for dudes has increased from 9.5 to a 10.5.

Apparently our feet are growing longer and wider over time, but no one can pinpoint exactly why. It could be due to the hormones in our food, or maybe that younger generations have grown up wearing sturdier shoes that were better for our feet. Michael Weiss, the national retail director for women's shoes at Nordstrom thinks that comfy shoes like clogs and Crocs have caused our feet to spread. What doesn't help matters is that nearly four in 10 women buy shoes knowing they don't fit, according to the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. Is this because we want the shoes so badly that we'll buy them even though they don't fit us properly, or are stores just not carrying our sizes? Hmmm.

My issue is that I wear an 8.5 and my size is always sold out first! What is your biggest footwear gripe?

Oh, and for those of you who have an above average shoe size, I have some good news for you. This article I read in the Chicago Tribune offered up some really great shoe shopping sites that go all the way up to a size 15 or 16 and carry a great range of widths. Check out the links below.

barefoottess.com
shoesofyourdreams.com
designershoes.com (they go from a 4 narrow to a 15 medium)