Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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December 24, 2012

More shoes showing up under Christmas tree

NEW YORK (AP) — Shoes are coming out of the closet and landing under the Christmas tree. They're a top seller this holiday season — a big feat considering most years they don't even make gift lists.

Laranda Williams, 39, used to buy clothing, tools and electronics as presents for her family. This year, though, she looked at their feet and got inspired. She bought some Vans sneakers for one of her sons, two pairs of stilettos for a girlfriend of another son, and Nike running shoes for her husband.

"Electronics and clothing get redundant," said Williams, who lives in Clarksville, Tenn. "Shoes are just the wow. I know they're going to use it, and I know they're going to love it."

The shoe-gifting fetish is part of a larger trend of shoppers buying loved ones gifts that they not only like, but also can use. It's this habit of practicality that Americans have been clinging to throughout the economic downturn.

This holiday season, it's meant that mom might not buy Molly an extravagant evening gown she'll maybe wear once. But mom may splurge on $600 Jimmy Choo pumps if Molly needs work shoes or $150 Nike sneakers if her daughter's an avid runner.

"It's about practicality and splurging at the same time," said Marshal Cohen, chief research analyst at NPD Inc., a market research firm. "There's a sense of, 'I know what you need but you haven't gotten it for yourself.'"

As a result, footwear was the fifth most popular gift on shoppers' lists on the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, according to NPD. A year ago, shoes didn't even make it into the top 10 gifts for the season.

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