Retail workers. Some of the most numerous of all labor in the world, it is a trade that is very diverse. But overall, most people work in a store as a ‘customer service representative’ or something close to that. A huge number of people, both part time and full time, fall under this category, and it means that a lot of people simply need shoes to help them go about their day. The challenges of a retail worker can be a bit different depending on what job you have, so it is important to find the right footwear, no matter if you are working 40 hours a week or just ten. In fact, it’s all the more important to get the right shoes if you are working ten because your body might not be used to the workload. Retail workers need shoes that aren’t only good for standing all day but also are good for walking, too, and that is what we will be taking a look at today. We’ll go over the features you’ll want and need in a good pair of shoes, answering a lot of your questions along the way, and then we will look at some of the best on the market currently in our reviews toward the end.
Top Shoes for Retail Workers Comparison Chart
|Product||Type||Material||Price||Where to Buy?|
|1. Skechers for Work Women’s Ghenter Shoe||Tennis Shoes||Mesh fabric||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|2. Crocs Women’s Neria Pro II||Slip-ons||EVA||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|3. YKH Women’s Slip on Rocker||Slip-ons||Elastic Knit||$||Check Price On Amazon|
|4. Dr. Scholl’s Women’s Inhale Sneaker||Tennis Shoes||Leather/Textile||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|5. New Balance Men’s MW577||Walking Shoe||Leather||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|6. KEEN Utility Men’s PTC Slip On||Slip-ons||Leather||$$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|7. Skechers for Work Men’s Workshire Steel Toe Shoe||Slip-ons||Leather||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|8. Timberland PRO Men’s Rigmaster XT Steel Toe||Boots||Leather||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
Shoes for Retail Workers Buying Guide
Size and Fit
First and foremost, it is crucial to take a look at how to size yourself and get fitted for your pair of shoes. Athletes know and recognize a simple fact of life when they are going about their activity: that their feet swell the longer they run, jump, skate, etc. What this means is your foot essentially expands to keep it simple. This can be a major problem for someone if you didn’t take the proper measures.
So what are those measures? First things first, you want to key in on your true size. You will want to go to a store and measure your foot. Most places have an old school tool to do so, while some now have computer software to help you not only get your size but also tell you about any potential problems you might have as well. No matter which one it is, or maybe you are already familiar with your size, this will help you.
Next, make sure that you are a little bit warm. You can do this one of a few ways. Perhaps the easiest would be to go in the middle or later parts of the day, assuming you aren’t an ‘active’ type of person. If you are an active person, you could go in the early parts of the day after some exercise. This will allow you to try on shoes after you have done some activity, which will help to closely mimic the effects on you come the end of your shift when you are working at your job.
Many, many people complain online about their shoes not feeling very good, and a giant swath of them are doing so simply because of this principle: they just don’t know how to try on their shoes. It looks easy: just grab a box, take them out, and put them on. But in reality, it’s much more than that. Buying online can be tough for this reason, but it is not impossible. Generally, a half a size up is going to do you wonders. That is, if the brand doesn’t notoriously run small or large already. Then it gets a little tricky. With all of that said, it is encouraged to try them on in a store, but it’s not always required and necessary, if you do it right.
As far as fit is concerned, you also have to look at some other things, too. You need to make sure that they feel good on and make sure that you are not slipping back and forth. A common problem by some is that they overdo the size because they are scared to get too small of a size. Too small can give you problems like blisters and the such, which are awful in their own right, but it’s just as bad to be too large. Shoes that are too big are prone to falling off, and you are just open to more injuries. You can prevent that by making sure you feel comfortable in your shoes.
Injuries are a bad thing, no matter who you are, but they can be a major issue for retail workers. Blisters, or any foot problem as a result of poor footwear can keep you out of work, and less hours means less pay. Since a lot of retail workers don’t have insurance, the problem is compounded.
Lastly, just know that you can always try on shoes and then buy online. The temptation is always there to buy online, whether it is because of the price, the selection, or just the ease of use, but you can get in a real jam by doing that. Even if you don’t find something specific that you want, it’s just a good idea to try on some pairs of shoes. Better yet, you might just find the ones you want and can shop for them online. Sending them back is a pain, so you can avoid that by taking these steps.
Very much akin to the issue of fitting and size is the issue of arch support. This is something that many people can attest to being just as important as the width and length of a shoe. If you are very serious about finding a shoe that will not only comfort you but also protect you from harm, then you need arch support. We have all been there: you have a pair of shoes that look really awesome and you put them on and wear them all day. Problem is, they are flat and bend very easily when you take them and try to twist them from the middle. This means they have zero arch support, and it’s the reason why they hurt you all day. It’s vital to try shoes on in person because when you do, you can conduct this test. Just take the shoe and bend it at the middle to see it will bend over and touch itself. If it does, it’s not going to have much arch support. Flat shoes are also a problem as well, even if you are not flat footed. If you do have flat feet these are especially bad for you, and you should run away from them as fast as you can. Another helpful and related tip is to find a pair of shoes that has some ‘heel’ to it. Guys, no, this doesn’t mean we want you to wear high heels. It just means that you don’t want your heel flat to the ground all day. If you are working long hours, the sole is going to ‘eat’ into you, and it will start to add up and make you feel pain if you do it day after day and week after week.
Comfort vs Cushion
Here is another misconception that is frequently seen in shoppers. Most people want to believe that a shoe is going to always feel great on them if they put them on and they feel like they are having a party in the clouds immediately. This all well and good, and it’s a shame it can’t be that way, but just because you feel comfortable does not mean you have good cushion. It also does not mean that you will always feel good in them. I have a pair of athletic recovery shoes that are super soft. They feel great right after exercise and they help me cool down. However, after wearing them for a very long time, the ‘comfort’ gives way to an annoying sort of pain. The reason: they don’t really have cushioning and padding. They aren’t intended for that use. Not all shoes are going to feel good on you all the time, so if you have to pick, you should pick the latter, cushioning, over just plain ‘ol comfort. Comfort is great until you realize you don’t feel good anymore, then you are in trouble! Some shoes do a great job with both and some are better than others. Reading reviews and knowing what you generally like can help solve most of the potential disasters that you may end up facing.
Be Ready For Both Walking and Standing
Unlike jobs where people will be standing all day in one place, retail work can be challenging in that it doesn’t always lend itself to doing just standing. Of course, you could be behind the desk as a cashier and have to stand, depending on your own job title, but for a lot of people, you will have to be ready for something that requires you to walk around, too. What this means is that you need a shoe that can handle both. There are many, many shoes designed for one or the other, but if you are someone that ‘wears a lot of hats,’ you need to make double sure that you find a pair of shoes that will help you to accomplish both. Most of the time, the level of comfort isn’t going to be an issue. If it can handle you standing all day, then they will feel fine when you are walking, too. However, there are things that go into shoes for walking that are important, and we will take a look at those later on.
One note before we move on is this: running shoes are not always what you need. A ton of people assume, incorrectly, that running shoes will be their best bet for standing and/or walking all the live long day. But that’s just not the case. Running shoes can be great for those purposes, but not all of them are created equal. Some running shoes are simply designed for, gasp, running. They are meant for you to run in them, and then for you to take them off and put on a different pair of shoes. The reason this is important to note is because the vast majority of running shoes are made with one purpose in mind: running straight ahead. There aren’t any quick turns in running, so just keep that in mind as you look for shoes. This doesn’t rule out a pair of running shoes, or at least it shouldn’t, but it also means that you should automatically look there for your go-to answer.
Features of Shoes That Retail Workers Might Need
Depending on the type of retail work that you do, some different features could be required. We will look at some of them below, and explain just why they are so important and why you would want them included on your shoes when you go to work.
Non-slip shoes are a necessity for many retail workers, and that is why we have to mention them here. Non-slip shoes, in fact, are a requirement by a lot of companies because they do not want to be liable for anyone that falls. If you work for such a company and you do not wear non-slip shoes, you will not get much sympathy and you’re not likely to get much of anything in the way of help because you chose to break the rules. People that work in food service or a grocery store need them, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. No one wants to see their employees get hurt, and even more importantly, you don’t want to see yourself get injured when you could easily prevent that from occurring. Even if you don’t have to have non-slip shoes, you might want them just so you can literally stay on your feet and keep making the money!
Alright, this one isn’t all that expected, but it’s a big one. Usually, at least you’d think, shock absorption would refer to a shoe made for running or basketball, or something else strenuous. While that is true, and that is needed for running or basketball, it’s also something that can be very helpful to you in an everyday situation. Shock absorption helps reduce your chances of getting stress fractures and strains of all kinds, so it can be a big aid to you as you look to remain on the job instead of on the sidelines at home.
Open or Closed?
Some places will allow you to wear open-toed shoes, or shoes with an opening in the back. If you work at such a place, this can be a life savior to you, or it could also be a recipe for disaster as well. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you always should. If you decide to go with an open shoe, just know that there are some downsides. One thing, most obviously, is that they will not keep you as warm as shoes that are closed would. Whether it is cold outside or it’s hot out and the AC is running, this can be a negative factor of them. Dress codes are also massive, and much like in the case of non-slip shoes management decrees are vital. You must follow them, so if you are told you have to have a certain kind, then you had better go with that or you could risk losing your job.
Types of Retail Work Shoes
There are few different options to pick from if you are doing retail work, and in this section we are going to take a look at the pros and cons of each and explain why you should and shouldn’t get them.
Tennis shoes, or sneakers, if you’d like are probably the most common of all shoe types in the world, and they also rank very highly among those that work in retail. One big reason for that is that they are just so abundant on the market. No matter where you go, you are always prone to seeing them, so they are easy to buy. But on top of that, they are also popular because they give you a good mixture of performance, comfort, cushioning, and a great look, too. The casual look is something that a lot of people like to go with. With that said, the management aspect is big in this decision. If you are told you can’t wear tennis shoes, then you will have to look elsewhere. There are other factors, too. Even if you are allowed to wear them, you might be required to wear a certain color. So, you should always keep that in mind when looking to purchase a pair of sneakers for work.
Another popular option is a ‘boot.’ You probably have the picture of a big, honking pair of Lugz in your head, but that’s not what we mean here. This wouldn’t be the heavy kind of boot, rather it would just be a good natural boot. Sometimes people even refer to shoes that are reminiscent of tennis shoes but not as cooling looking as them as “boots.” The advantages of a boot are pretty much the same as that of a sneaker, but instead of being flashy, you have a more subdued look. This is oftentimes preferred by employers, so that could be the main reason you’d want to go with a boot. Of course, you could also just prefer them because they offer increased protection as well, so there is that to consider as well as what management dictates.
In order to be succinct as possible, we are going to include anything in this category that is not a closed toe shoe. So this includes your sandals, flip-flops, and just your regular slip-ons. Slip-ons have gotten better and better over the years, with many of them being preferred by people because they don’t feel like you have shoes on. They also can look very good and professional if you choose the right pair, so they have grown quite a loyal following as a result of that. One of the calling cards of them is that they are very easy to put on and take off, which can be a major plus for you. People that are most likely to need these are those that aren’t in an environment where there is a bunch of heavy stuff being moved around and those that need something to make them look a little bit more professional. Of course, you might not be allowed to wear them for safety reasons, so consult the safety guidelines handbook or management to find out if you can or can’t.
Best Shoes for Retail Workers Reviews
Before we start our list, a quick note. The shoes listed here will be split into two sections: men’s and women’s. There will be four of each. It is important to wear shoes for your gender because they meet specific problems. So without any further adieu, here we go!
Top Four Women’s Shoes for Retail Workers
Skechers for Work Women’s Ghenter Shoe
I know, I know a lot of women will shudder at the thought of Skechers, but they really shouldn’t because this shoe has a lot of good to it. You’d think that they might not look great, but that is just not the case. It’s one color, black, but it really is a classy look that should make you happy. In addition to that, it will make your manager happy, too, because they are slip resistant on the bottoms. This makes them ideal for food service jobs, and it is even in the extended title on their listing. The mesh fabric that they use on them also makes them ideal to food service because they are breathable, allowing you to get air whether you are serving or in the kitchen. The rubber sole used on the bottom of the shoes is sturdy and has good traction, making it an overall good shoe to have for your long work day. The memory foam used inside them is a big talking point, with some loving it and others hating it. If you are end up in the latter camp, there is good news because you can replace the inserts with your own. One of the major downsides of the shoe is that it does lack arch support for those that need a lot of it. So if you have issues already and are standing a lot, they are not the best bet for you. They also tend to run a little bit tight as well, so that is concern. Lastly, there isn’t a lot of shock absorption to be had.
- Very good price
- Nice design
- Extremely breathable due to mesh
- Fit is a little tight
- Not a lot of shock absorption
- Lacks arch support
Crocs Women’s Neria Pro II
It shouldn’t be too big of a surprise to see Crocs make the list, and they do so at #2 with their Neria Pro offering. This shoe, like all Crocs, is an ‘open’ shoe, meaning that the back is open and you just slip them on. This can be a godsend to some, but it can also make them a no-go for others. Despite this, though, they do meet workplace standards because the heels and toes are locked out, so that is a plus. One thing you will notice with these Crocs is the raised heel, which will help give your arch support that it badly needs. The fact that they have extra room in the back makes them very easy to put on as well, and it doesn’t take away from the protection you are afforded. They have a couple of very stylish colors to pick from, making them an ideal pick for the fashion savvy out there. They are very easy to clean, too, which is something you can be thankful for. They’ve also got slip resistance via their Crocs lock tread, making them qualify if you need that. The main problem that they have about them is the front part of the shoe. They tend to be pretty tight, not nearly as roomy as the back part, and it has led some to having sizing issues. On top of being tight, they are also narrow, which is just as big of an issue when they are advertised to be “wide.” Another common problem is that they squeak, which can not only be annoying but also a hindrance depending on the job.
- Very stylish
- Raised heel aids with arch support
- Crocs lock keeps you from slipping
- Runs narrow
- Tend to be tight regarding length
- Makes noise when moving
YKH Women’s Slip on Rocker
If you are looking for something that is a little more professional and less open but still easy to put on and get off, then the YKH Rocker could be the answer you are looking for. The YKH is a very cool looking shoe that doesn’t just look cool but also serves a function. The shoes come in a few different colors and have a rounded toe to help you put them on. They look futuristic in the way the bottoms are with their ‘rocker’ look, and they are designed that way in order to reduce stress on the bottom of the foot, particularly in those that have had feet problems in the past. This alone could be enough to make people want to try them out. On top of that, they come in at a very reasonable price that won’t make very many people balk at all. The sole of the shoe is made with lightweight PU, which makes the shoe easy to walk and stand on. In addition to that, it helps with the cushioning and increases the amount of comfort that you are able to get. There are some issues to be had, however. First of all, these shoes are not slip resistant. On top of that, they are not the all-time greatest with arch support, despite the rocker bottom that seeks to try and help. Furthermore, the sizing can be a hassle because it is not done in US sizes and they recommend that you go up a size as well. So that could be too much trouble for some people to go through.
- Very reasonable price
- Great design with few different classic colors
- Rocker bottom reduces stress
- Not the best in terms of arch support
- Not slip proof
- Sizing problems abundant
Dr. Scholl’s Women’s Inhale Sneaker
Most people tend to think inserts when they think of Dr. Scholl’s, but they also offer shoes, and the fourth and final listing on the women’s side is from them. These shoes, of course, as you’d expect have the Dr. Scholl’s comfort insert inside them. And even just looking into them from above, you get the feeling that they are going to be very comfy on your feet. The shoes themselves could look a little better, to be honest, but they aren’t the worst look ever and can be overlooked by most people, it must be said. The thing that makes them ideal for workers is the combination of the classic Dr. Scholl’s comfort and the slip resistance on the bottom. Just those two things alone would make them sell pretty quickly, but the fact that they also have a lot of moisture wicking properties also makes them a good shoe to have. That’s where the ‘inhale’ part comes from due to their use of a ‘dri-lex’ lining to wick away moisture and give you breathability. They’ve also got odor control inside via an anti-microbial shield, so that is more to look forward to having if you decide to purchase them. A potential pitfall is that they don’t have a lot of extra room in the toe box, meaning you might not want to choose them if you have a wide foot. They also tend to run small, with people complaining that they ordered a size up and still didn’t have much room in length terms. Food also gets trapped on the bottoms given the awkward design, so that can be a pain if you’re in the food service industry.
- Very breathable materials
- Odor control not a worry
- Slip resistant
- Traps food in the grooves
- Not the best of looks
- Not very roomy with length or width
Top Four Men’s Shoes for Retail Workers
New Balance Men’s MW577
Alright, let’s get this out of the way. All jokes aside, this is not the best looking shoe ever, and it’s honestly down right plain. So that is something that you have to account for. But it does have its pluses, include the hook and loop enclosures used. If style isn’t a necessity then this can be a boon for you and your feet because it makes them very easy to get on and off, thought it is also part of the reason why they look so bad. But aside from getting them on and off, they serve to keep you locked in to the shoe at all times, which prevents you from sliding around in them. The comfort level of these shoes is pretty high, too, with the use of foam and polyurethane in the misdole, collar, and tongue increasing the cushioning that you feel. One of the biggest things that people will like is that they come in various widths, meaning people with wider feet have an option to go with in them. They do have a flat sole, but by all accounts a lot of people like amount of support that it gives them nonetheless. Besides the obvious problems with the terrible look, they do have some other issues. These aren’t the lightest of all shoes, and that can really takes its toll after a long day at work. On top of that, the sole area has shown wear and tear problems, especially in the outer right hand side.
- Heel and loop very easy to use
- Very comfy
- Wide enough for everyone
- Pretty bad in terms of the looks department
- A little bit heavy
- Sole area gets wear and tear over time
KEEN Utility Men’s PTC Slip On
If you are a male and are looking for a professional, modern, and more relaxed type of shoe to work in then the KEEN Utility could be just the answer. This sort of shoe, which is a slip on is very prevalent in the ladies’ market, but it’s just not nearly as big in the men’s. However, there are men that want this sort of look, and it fills that void by doing a very good job. The look is very simple but has a classy vibe to it with all black being used. And even though it is ‘just’ a slip on, it offers a plethora of things to keep your protected. For example, KEEN uses its patented toe protection for the outsole, which wrap up over the top of the toes. On the bottom, they are slip resistant, meaning you don’t have to worry about falling while looking more casual. The upper is also resistant to water and stains, and they also use gore to make them more elastic and freeing. In the inside of the shoe, they have used recycled materials and memory foam in order to give you all the cushioning that you need in your various tasks. Some, however, will balk at these shoes simply due to the fact that they are a little bit expensive compared to most pairs that have made this list so far. Another gripe is that KEEN does not offer warranties on the insole of the shoe, just the shoe itself, which means some people aren’t happy with the way the insole has fit them or feels for them. They also seem to be giving people problems sliding around, so the slip resistance might not be as good as it is trumped up to be.
- Looks great despite being one color
- Has toe protection
- Won’t get you soaked
- Costs quite a premium
- Easy to slide around with them on
- Insoles present difficulties
Skechers for Work Men’s Workshire Steel Toe Shoe
If you are looking for something that will give you a little bit more protection from the elements but also give you a lot of comfort and a relaxed look, then this Skechers option could be the one for you. Mixing both the look of a slip on and the features of a steel toe boot, this shoe combines the best of both worlds to give you comfort and protection in a way few would think of. On top of doing that, they have done so without making the shoe look goofy or undesirable, which is a major plus to be able to brag about. The shoe is all about comfort, with the flexsole of the shoe allowing flexibility while also bringing rigidity to the product as a whole at the same time. Memory foam is used on the inside to increase the level of cushioning you experience, and that is something that you can really trust Skechers with, as it has been a forte of theirs for some time. The outsole has excellent traction to it and is slip resistant, allowing you to work in areas that aren’t always dry while remaining comfy and getting your shoes on easily. The elastic gores used make the shoes easy to put, too, and they allow you to move your feet much more freely, almost as if you don’t have any on at all. One of the biggest issues looks to be that they are not easy to find, despite being relatively cheap, for all sizes. So, that can be a bummer if you have your heart set on them. Also, please be advised that these aren’t going to be the same level of protection as a boot. It will help if you bump into something or drop something, but it’s not gonna prevent crushing or anything. They also have a lack of support over time, with the support wearing out after a while.
- Has a steel toe
- Slip on feel and comfortability
- Really good price
- Lack of availability in certain sizes
- Not an ultra heavy duty steel toe
- Lacks support over time
Timberland PRO Men’s Rigmaster XT Steel Toe
If you’re looking to give yourself, or a loved one, much more protection while also giving them a shoe that can comfort them during a long day, then the Timberland PRO Rigmaster might just be the answer you have been waiting for. While boots are a little bit heavier and are going to cost more, you do have to pay a premium for these, what they give you is worth the money provided you work in the right industry. The steel toe feature goes above and beyond that of the last entry, simply because it is a boot and is protecting more area. They are also made with technology that seeks to prevent your feet from fatiguing, using geometric patterns to give you energy return and shock absorption qualities. It’s no secret that these would make you stand out in certain jobs, but if you work somewhere that is close to outdoor work, then you will fit right in and be protected wearing them. On top of all of that, they also are both waterproof and slip resistant, meaning you don’t have to worry about water, oil, or anything else that might have you slipping otherwise. Besides the relatively high price you will pay, you have to pay attention to the seams in them. If they start to burst, whether from hard and prolonged use or the such, they will start to fail in their waterproofing. The heel area also can begin to lose its touch after a lot of use, too, so just be aware that a lot of strain will make them wear out.
- Heavy duty steel toe
- Won’t get you wet or slip
- Has energy return properties
- Costs quite a premium
- Seams can come apart
- Heel begins to loosen after prolonged use
Conclusion And Final Shoes for Retail Workers Recommendations
Selecting the right pair of shoes for retail can be an excruciating process. Whether you are excited to start a new job or going back to one you’ve held for years and years, finding a suitable pair of shoes can suck all the fun out of it right away. While we can’t make it more entertaining, we can help you identify what you need and why you need it, and that’s what we have done today with our reviews. No matter if you are looking for something cool and casual, something professional, or something heavy duty, there is answer for everyone to keep you safe and comfortable during a long, arduous day of exhausting work.
FAQ’s About Shoes for Retail Workers
* How Much Walking Does a Retail Worker Really Do?
It might not seem like much at first glance, but the average retail worker is estimated to walk about three miles per shift. This, when combined with the fact you are standing on them for most of your shift, means it is crucial to pick the correct pair of shoes that will help you do both. While three miles in and of itself isn’t a great deal of walking, it can be painful if you do not have the proper footwear and just aren’t used to it.
*How Long Do Shoes Take to Break In?
There really isn’t a good answer to this question, unfortunately. All shoes are different from one another, and that means some will break in faster than others will. Shoes that take a while to break in might end up being some of the best you have ever had, but it just takes you time and patience to get them dialed in. The best tip to know is to take it slow. Wear them for a couple of hours, then increase it slowly until you are wearing them throughout your shift. You don’t want to go straight to them from nothing, that is never a good idea.
* Are Flip-Flops a Good Idea?
The answer is clear: no. Even if, for example, your employer has not mandated that you not wear them, it’s just not a good idea. They don’t offer you a lot of support, they allow you to slip more easily, and they just don’t look professional at all. On top of that, things are more liable to fall on your feet, and even if they aren’t heavy, you just won’t be protected from whatever the object may be.
* How Important is Price?
Just like everything, price is important. You don’t want to break the bank, and rightfully so, but you also want something that lasts as well. You get what you pay for is the old saying, and that rings true here as well. The tip I’d give you is to know your budget and stick within it. As long as your budget is peanuts and doughnuts to dollars, you should be able to find something that you like and that does a good job for you, even at a bargain bin price.
* Why Is Shock Absorption So Important?
You ask this, and rightfully so, because you aren’t going to be jumping or pounding the pavement while running. While that is the case, hopefully, you still have to think about what kind of surface you will be working on. For the majority of workers in retail, it will be concrete floor. If it is not concrete, it is probably going to be tile. This puts a lot of strain on the feet, which can in turn cause knee and back problems and pain if persistent enough. You can avoid that if you find shoes that absorb some of the shocks associated with standing and walking on it.