Debenhams has revealed new research which suggests the female foot is getting bigger across the UK.
With sales soaring, demand for size nine shoes has sparked a massive 80% increase in stocks at the department store.
But despite the growing trend, 82% of size eight and nine customers say they are ashamed of their shoe size, ironically most blokes in the UK are a size nine.
Merchandisers at the department store thought something was afoot when it was revealed that 67% of all size nines sold, are bought online as opposed to in store.
Carie Barkhuizen, Debenhams Spokesperson, said: “Buying shoes online can be a tricky feat which is why we decided to ask women why they were shopping behind closed doors. We were surprised to learn a case of cold feet was behind it all.
“It’s even more surprising when you consider the host of celebrity women like Michelle Obama and Nicole Kidman proudly stepping out on their larger paws.”
When asked to identify what part of shopping for shoes in store they found particularly uncomfortable, 64% said it was asking the shop assistant for their size and 36% said they hated taking their shoes off in public.
The survey also revealed that 47% of women had lied to their partners and friends about their shoe size.
To help combat this embarrassment, Debenhams has instructed stores to put more size eight and nine stock out on the shop floor for women to help themselves to.
Women needn’t feel alone however, the average female shoe size has increased by one and a half sizes over the last 10 years; from four and a half in 1990 to a size six in 2011, and larger sizes are increasingly in demand.
The change is attributed to women’s feet becoming broader rather than longer which experts believe may be due to an increase in average body weight as women grow taller.
Demand for size nines was highest in Dublin, followed by London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Newcastle.
Carie Barkhuizen continued: “If the current trend continues, then we will start stocking women’s shoes in size ten and eleven too.
“Shoes with high heels, such as stilettos in larger sizes, have to be made much stronger with sturdier load bearing points, able to cope with greater levels of stress and wear.