Brigitte Wischnewski and Britta Goertz

Today, the Schuhhaus Meyer & ABC Shoes shops are run by the third and fourth generation of the entrepreneurial family, represented by Brigitte Wischnewski – president of the German Association of Shoes Retailers (BDSE) from 2002 to 2021 – and by her daughter Britta Goertz, who offer customers a wide range of shoes for Men, Women and Children.

What is the current mood?
Brigitte Wischnewski: Up until the end of February, there was clearly a mood of optimism. The start of the season was very positive. However, the war in Ukraine abruptly brought the mood down. In addition, the sharp increase in energy costs has dampened customers’ optimism.

Britta Görtz: The feeling of uncertainty can be felt every day. People’s basic attitude is described by the now-common phrase: ‘everything is getting more expensive.’ They are very price sensitive and some of them are anxious about the future. Fortunately, there are a few exceptions: children’s shoes have always been perceived as a necessity and there are no arguments about the price. Older women with a secure income or a good pension still have a propensity to buy. This type of woman has already gone through many crises, is not intimidated and sometimes buys three pairs of shoes at once.

Brigitte Wischnewski: Since the end of April, however, we have seen a further change. Shop attendance has increased considerably. This is certainly due to the good sunny weather and rising temperatures. The favourable weather makes people want to buy new shoes.
We have also noticed another positive factor as a result of the pandemic: many people are buying locally again. Especially in less crowded medium-sized cities.

Are you currently suffering from delivery problems on the part of manufacturers?
Brigitte Wischnewski: Unfortunately, at this time we have to accept delivery delays of four to eight weeks for many brands.

Britta Görtz: I am very sorry to see that some small manufacturers with very innovative collections cannot deliver. This is partly due to material price increases that make production impossible. It’s a shame, because not only are innovative products missing, but I have also given up on ordering from other suppliers. In some cases, colour variants are not delivered, especially the more unusual shades, which usually make the shop window look beautiful and attract customers to the shop.

What is working best for next spring/summer?
Brigitte Wischnewski: Sneakers are still the undisputed stars, the starting point, especially those in neutral and natural shades. Monochrome combinations with subtle colour accents in sage, rosé, blue and vanilla are doing great in the transitional season. For the height of summer we opt for bright colours, for example, multicoloured mules and sandals.

Britta Görtz: The moccasin is finally back in fashion! On the one hand, moccasins with chunky soles and details such as large chains are doing well. On the other hand, there are also classic versions on thinner soles. Many customers who have always loved this type of shoe are happy that it is available again. Our best-selling brands are Paul Green, Maripé and Lloyd.
As for accessories, we are seeing good demand for all kinds of body bags, wide decorative shoulder bags, scarves and more festive bags. The clutch is in high demand – to go with feminine shoes and sandals for the upcoming holiday season.
For the next orders, I will remain cautious about white sneakers. I will focus more on new shapes or, if they are well-known shapes, on new colours. In general, I would like to see shoes with lots of decorations again, in continuity with the trend of chains. I would like to see even more exciting and fun details on shoes!

Which sales aspect has become crucial?
Britta Görtz: Supplier services have become much more important. The customer does not accept that a certain pair of shoes is not available. If that is what they want, they do not accept an alternative. Suppliers with fast delivery options and good B2B services, therefore, have a clear advantage. Gabor and Lloyd, for example, but also brands like Andrea Conti or Blundstone live up to these expectations.

Brigitte Wischnewski: Our job is to make customers’ wishes come true. They find more products available online, of course, but our good advice and tips help to avoid bad purchases. That’s why we are looking for partners who can support us in offering a competitive digital service. We would also like to see more efforts from Italian suppliers in the area of logistics and digitalisation.

What has changed significantly in the industry over the past decade?
Brigitte Wischnewski: Definitely the Internet! In 2014/15, we decided to sell online as well. A major step, driven at the time by losses in local trade. Today it is an integral part of the business, accounting for approximately 18% of sales, both through our platform and other portals such as and Schuhe24. As already mentioned, customers have become more demanding. Every pair has to be available and we have to be able to get the shoes very quickly. The new Loqa app will support us in this respect, as it enables seamless shopping and increases the availability of the desired products for the local retailer.

Britta Görtz: We also work with very efficient and cross-functional systems in the shop, such as the sneaker wall or the outdoor wall managed by the ANWR association group. These strategies allow us to build collections for a period of two to four seasons, guaranteeing constant availability and reordering of products. Another good example of forward-looking cooperation between industry and retail is the Blundstone brand. We are not able to display their wide range of models in the shop. We have some "test models" that allow us to order the boots in the required colours via the Scalerion marketplace and then have them delivered directly to the customer’s home or to the shop. A system that allows us to avoid stock risks. And our customers are happy to accept this new type of shopping experience.

Which trade fairs will you be taking part in?
Brigitte Wischnewski: We will definitely visit Shoes in Düsseldorf and the ANWR trade fairs. We would also like to come to Italy again.