If you are one of the millions of women that wears a smaller than average shoe size, you could save least a fortune buying from the children’s section – all thanks to the VAT exemption on children’s shoes. While those of you who have slightly larger feet, say size 6 or 7, can find lower prices – even with VAT added.
According to the HMRC’s rules on VAT, that footwear designed for young people (up to a certain size) is exempt from the 20% charge. So, boots, shoes, sandals and slippers, even if they’re designed for special purposes – such as ballet shoes or studded football boots – are tax free, up to a size 5.5 for women. It gets slightly more complicated, though, as the shoe has to meet design requirements too, but it essentially comes down to heel height, in that it doesn’t exceed the sole depth by more than four centimetres. In other words, it works for anything but high heels.
But just how much can you save?
When I was recently shopping for trainers, I had a look in the kids department of JD Sports.
I found that a pair of women’s size 5.5 pair of Nike Free Run from the high street retailer would cost £70 in the sale (regular price is £90), while a ‘junior’ pair at the same store and in the same style/colour will cost just £50, a savings of £20. Had I been shopping before the sale hit, I would have shaved £40 off my total spend. Not bad going if you ask me.
While buying a pair of adidas Originals Gazelle II Junior in size 5.5 at the sports retailer will cost you just £45, compared to forking out £75 for the “adult” version in the same size – a saving of £30.
But it’s not just trainers where you can save some serious cash. When I was on the hunt for some new autumn loafers, I had a good search on the Zara website and came up trumps.
At Zara this week, you can find leather loafers (size 38) in the women’s department for just £49.99, while a nearly identical version in the same size can be picked up in the kid’s section for just £29.99 – a saving of £20.
If you have bigger feet, don’t despair
What’s more, you can even save on shoe shopping if you have bigger feet – many children’s shoe departments at retailers such as Debenhams, John Lewis and Mark’s & Spencer stock up to a women’s size 7. However, while you won’t find these shoes exempt from VAT due to the size you can still bag a bargain – these shoes are often so like the adult version but with a much smaller price tag.
And the savings you can make are considerable. Last year, I bought a pair of ankle boots from FatFace for £59. A week after I started wearing them, I found a very similar pair in the kids section at M&S for just £15. And my feet aren’t small – I wear a very average size 6.