County third in women’s shoe spending 

Imelda Marcos and "Sex and the City" fashion icon Carrie Bradshaw might find San Mateo County women hot on their trails when it comes to shoe buying.

Data compiled in October by MapInfo, a New York-based company that determines where people are buying what, found that San Mateo County ranked third nationwide in per-household spending on women’s shoes in the 2005-06 fiscal year.

Though fashion-forward places such as New York and Los Angeles may come to mind first, San Mateo County actually ranks third after second-place Santa Clara County, and the ultimate winner of Utah County, Utah.

Using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the company took the aggregate dollars spent in each county on women’s footwear between July 2005 and June 2006 and divided it by the number of households in the area, said Sebastien Rancourt, MapInfo product manager.

"Women love shoes," Rancourt said. "We thought it would be interesting data to look at."

With $61 million spent here on women’s shoes, San Mateo

County’s roughly 266,000 households spent an average of $229.64 on women’s footwear alone, Rancourt found.

The findings did not take online sales into account, nor did they differentiate between single-person households and families, he said.

Still, as one of the most expensive areas with a high average income, it stands to reason that San Mateo County residents would spend more per household on just about everything.

"It seems like a lot of people spend a lot on a lot of things around here," observed Jennifer Lindy, a Fresno resident visiting a friend in San Mateo and shopping for shoes downtown Monday afternoon.

She’s not too far off the mark. TheU.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2003, the median household income in San Mateo County was nearly $65,000, far beyond the state median household income that year of $48,440.

Other data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics find that Bay Area people between 2004 and 2005 spent more on everything — food, housing, even alcoholic beverages — than even people in Los Angeles. Still, it’s only sandals and 5-inch heels that are catching women’s eyes.

Jimmy Anderson, manager of Footwear, Etc. in downtown San Mateo, said women in the area and in general seem to be gravitating more toward comfortable shoes. Anderson, who once worked for a company in West Hollywood whose trademark shoe was a 5-inch stiletto, said companies have become better at making comfortable, fashionable shoes, a trend that may prompt more women to buy even more pairs.

"There was a lot of ‘grandma-shoe’ stigma about comfortable shoes," Anderson said. "But the industry is making excellent strides — no pun intended — toward making shoes good-looking and comfortable."

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