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'We got 300 calls today': High demand for children's shoes after they're reclassified as essential

One store has booked in 240 appointments already.

Image: Shutterstock/FamStudio

CHILDREN’S SHOE SHOPS have seen a huge increase in calls from parents after yesterday’s announcement that kids’ shoes will be reclassified as essential retail.

The announcement was made by the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly after healthcare experts and parents spoke out about the potential impact of too-small shoes on children

The reclassification is currently being worked on and no announcement has been made yet on when it will officially kick in.

Donnelly said last night: “We’re working through the details at the moment. The important thing for me is that it gets sorted quickly. The Department of Health will draw up any regulations, which I’ll sign as soon as I have them.”

However, the demand is already high from parents and caregivers, and some shops are taking appointments in advance.

In Cripps’ shoe shop in Terenure, Dublin, Joseph Cripps – whose family run the store – said that there was “a lot of pent-up demand”. “We were seeing it building online, we were processing 25 orders a day,” he said. The store has an appointment system and since yesterday’s announcement it is booked up 12 days ahead.

Cripps said that the parents he spoke to today “were all thrilled – they had all seen the news… we’d been getting calls daily about what can they do for children’s shoes”.

While the store has typically taken an average of 10-15 calls a day, it took over 300 calls today and filled 240 appointment slots. 

He urged potential customers to understand that patience is needed as due to social distancing the number of fitting slots has had to be reduced. 

Kubus Kids Shoes in Clonsilla has been able to remain open as it sells orthopedic items, but it too has seen an increase in calls today, its manager told The Journal. The parents ringing today had mentioned seeing yesterday’s announcement. 

In Portmarnock, the shoe shop Little Stompers had only opened its doors in December 2019, just a handful of months before Covid-19 hit. 

“Our customers have been really loyal,” said owner Louise McEvoy. She had spent the last few months of lockdown fielding calls from parents needing to buy shoes for their children, and had to take huge amounts of information from them in order to get them the right shoes. She was then able to direct them to the store’s website to purchase the shoes.

“Since yesterday the phone hasn’t stopped – we have such a backlog of kids to get through,” said McEvoy. “It’s been the same since every lockdown. Between all the lockdowns after each one you’d get a string of people who would have bought up to 3 pairs of shoes online and also bought measuring gadgets – and their shoes were still too small or the child was falling in them.”

She said she has dealt with multiple customers whose children were wearing shoes two sizes too small. Parents had spoken to The Journal emphasising how difficult it was for them to measure their children’s feet correctly.

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“From our point of view we’re still not able to do our normal business,” said McEvoy. “In normal times we’d have two fitting stations.” Due to Covid-19 restrictions it is only able to have one fitting station.

When parents are allowed to come in for fittings at Little Stompers, the store will be operating under government guidelines. 

“It’s far from normal but our staff are safe and our customers are safe,” said McEvoy.

Yesterday, Minister Donnelly said that he had listened to some of the doctors speaking on the issue and the medical implications of not having the right shoes for children’s growing feet.

“I am clearly of the view that they need to be added to the essential retail list, specifically for children’s shoes,” he told RTÉ. “The acting Chief Medical Officer [Ronan Glynn] and I have spoken about it this morning and it is something I fully support and want to see implemented immediately.” 

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