Best Shoes For Hospitality & Retail Staff
Creating an enjoyable and rewarding shopping or cafe experience for customers is a busy and active job - you’re constantly on your feet to greet and serve patrons, tend to their needs, prepare orders and carry heavy items. It’s no wonder then that hospitality staff are the most active of any profession, taking more than 4 times as many steps each day as the rest of the population with an average of 22,778 steps, and retail workers are not far behind, taking as many as 14,660 steps per day. 
That’s a significant demand on your feet - putting pressure on your bones, joints and muscles, so it comes as no surprise that our podiatrists often see hospitality and retail workers who struggle with sore, tired and swollen legs and feet at the end of the day, as well as knee and back pain. Our podiatrists know that the shoes you wear become the ground you walk on. They can either improve your daily comfort, reduce swelling and your risk of slips, trips and falls - or in some cases, only add to the problem.
So here we’ve put together a helpful guide of what features to look for when selecting comfortable, safe and supportive footwear for hospital and retail workers, as well as specific shoe options in a range of styles that are most popular in our clinic.
Choosing The Right Shoes For Hospitality And Retail - What Should I Look For?
Hospitality and retail staff spend a lot of time being active on their feet, so it’s important to select shoes that are lightweight, appropriately sized, durable and slip-resistant, with comfortable and supportive insoles, ankle support, and a strong heel counter:
Avoid heaviness - choose the lightweights
We don’t often think about the weight of our shoes as something that we can control, but it absolutely is. Choosing heavy shoes means that your feet can feel weighed down with every step, which may not be noticeable on a step-to-step basis, but adds up over time and can lead to tired and achy legs at the end of the day. Opt for lightweight materials where possible, and when choosing between a few pairs, always check their weight.
Have your feet measured to find right width and length
When it comes to selecting supportive footwear, fit matters. Our podiatrists recommend coming in for a fitting at the end of the day when your feet are most swollen. Chances are, if your shoes fit well and are comfortable at the end of the day, they’ll feel comfortable throughout your entire working day. Podiatrists can measure the length of your feet (one may be longer than the other!) as well as the width, and recommend footwear to suit you and your job.
When it comes to length, correctly-fitting shoes should give you a level of comfort and snugness without feeling pressure, restricting circulation, feeling any toes hitting the edges, feeling rubbing at the back of the heel or from the top of the shoe. Make sure you have at least 1cm of toe room at the front of your longest toe, and that the toe box is wide enough to wiggle your toes. If you're wearing shoes that are too big, you’re more likely to develop painful calluses, corns and blisters.
When it comes to width, your shoes should be snug and comfortable around your midfoot and heel. Shoes that are narrow can cause painful rubbing, foot cramps, and may even lead to bunions. Shoes that are too wide won’t be well secured to your foot, which can also cause pain and friction. At the forefoot, the toe box should have a little more room to accommodate how your toes move when you walk, which may splay out or grip the shoe. It should also fit around any features of your feet, like a bunion or claw toes.
Wearing shoes that are the correct width and length will maximise your balance, control, agility and stability - making moving around the shop or cafe that much easier and reducing your chance of pain or tripping.
Durability - select quality that will last the distance
We always recommend opting for shoes made from long-lasting materials - in our clinic we commonly see patients who complain about a pair of shoes that they’ve quickly worn through, wishing they’d invested in a better quality pair to see them through another year. This is why we opt for trusted, podiatrist-approved brands, and stock them in our clinic. The shoes we stock are built to last - both in their design, the way they support feet, and their materials.
Check the tread - select slip-resistant soles
Servers and retail staff can trip over when they’re carrying plates, trays or shopping items because they can’t see where they are walking. They can also slip on floors that are wet on rainy days, or that are covered with spilled soups or coffees. A fall can easily result in an ankle or leg sprain, fracture or other injury, and make it difficult to get back on your feet for work as you recover. Look for slip-resistant work shoes with high traction rubber outsoles. Alongside the tread, the wider the bottom of the shoe, the more traction you’ll naturally have.
From a podiatric perspective, we will always recommend shoes that wrap around the ankle and help to support it. By supporting and controlling the movement at the ankle, you’re limiting the side-to-side movement that the ankle is able to do, which can help prevent unwanted and straining movement. Just be careful that the shoe doesn’t sit too high, either - if the sides extend too close towards the bony bumps (malleoli) around your ankle, they may rub, be uncomfortable and cause pain.
Strong heel counter
The heel counter of a shoe is the part that sits behind the heel and wraps around the ankle, often having a stitch or seam. A heel counter that is firm will help to control the movement at the heel and ankle, adding stability and helping control the position of the foot. To test the integrity of your heel counter, push on the back of it with your thumb - the counter should be difficult to bend down, instead staying upright without flexing.
Comfortable, supportive and removable insoles
Finally, check the insoles of your shoes. Quality shoe brands are often designed alongside a consultant podiatrist who helps create a foot bed that is extremely comfortable and supportive - it can feel like walking on a cloud! These are naturally found in many brands including Revere. We highly recommend having a professional foot bed as they can make a world of difference to your comfort levels. It also means that if the time arises where you may need an orthotic due to foot pain or injury, you’ll be able to slip the insole out and your custom orthotic in, without having to purchase a new pair of shoes.
Recommended Shoe Styles For Hospitality and Retail Workers
1. The 'Winner' shoe by Dr. Comfort
This shoe is most definitely a winner for hospitality staff. This shoe has a black leather upper which is not only waterproof but can also be cleaned easily and quickly in the messy hospitality environment. This shoe helps keep you active in complete comfort with features that include:
- Top-grain soft leather
- Unique arch stabiliser for extra support
- Shock-absorbent inners
- Non-slip, non-skid patterned rubber soles for a reliable grip
- Wide toe box for plenty of wiggle room
- Padded heel cup and tongue to prevent skin irritation
2. Revere Athens
Revere’s Athens shoes are incredibly comfortable lace-up sneakers that retail and hospitality staff can wear all day for support and comfort, in a classic design that goes with any outfit or uniform. They tick all of our good feature boxes, and include:
- Built arch support
- Maximally adjustable uppers to help you get the perfect fit.
- Premium leather uppers
- Compliant approved slip-resistant rubber outsole
- Lightweight materials
- Multi layer cushioning system
- Stability support
3. Klouds Cara Croc in black
For retail staff who need shoes that are fashionable and on-trend, we love this cushioned and comfortable sneaker that is perfect with the latest jeans, dresses, shorts or skirts. Their benefits include:
- Orthotic friendly insoles
- Heel to toe cushioning for all-day comfort
- Hidden arch support to encourage alignment and reduce discomfort caused by plantar fasciitis
- A patterned sole for traction and slip-resistance
- Stabilising shank to maintain a neutral foot position while walking
- Soft genuine leather which is bunion friendly
- New and improved PU sole to protect your joints and vertebrae from impact on hard floors
- Natural leather sock to reduce moisture build up
- Added heel collar cushioning to increase comfort and reduce blisters
4. Mia Vita Bridgette
For retail staff in fashion who need to wear shoes that are stylish and beautiful, Bridgette is like heaven for your feet. Built like a sports shoe but with the ability to go with the latest in outfit trends, you’ll be working in comfort all day long. Mia Vita’s Bridgette are stylish slip-ons that can take you from work to dinner, and include features such as:
- A soft leather upper and inner
- A moulded footbed to keep you comfortable throughout the day
- A slip on style that gives you the ability to achieve the perfect fit by adjusting the laces.
- 2 sets of laces, so you have the ability to dress it up with our striped fabric lace or tone it down with our matching cotton lace.
- Super lightweight outer sole
- Extra durable and made to last
Looking For More Podiatrist-Recommended Shoe Options?
Then come in and visit the retail store within our clinic. We have a wide range of styles available to suit a range of preferences, regardless of your work requirements. We’re located at 5/13 Alford Street, Kingaroy QLD 4610.