Overall, sales of cross training shoes rose 16 percent to $197.8 million, and sales of basketball shoes rose 18.7 percent to $353.5 million for the three months ending in November. During that same period, sales of women's fashion footwear grew 3.2 percent to $6.12 billion.
Chelsey Gates, manager of Chuckies New York, a designer shoe store on the Manhattan borough of New York City, said she's seen more men buying shoes for the women in her life. One of the most popular gifts: Chelsea Paris gold trim ankle-high boots for $695.
"Men come in with cards with perfect instructions: style numbers, sizes and prices," she said.
The trend comes as stores have been trying to find ways to boost sales of shoes, which can carry profit margins of up to 50 percent.
As part of Macy's overhaul of its New York flagship store, the department store combined three different shoe departments and expanded their overall size by 10 percent. The new department has 250,000 pairs of shoes, including everything from $99 Nine West leopard print platform pumps to $400 Donald Pliner multi-colored pumps.
"Women love shoes. This is a category that they care about," said Muriel Gonzalez, an executive vice president at Macy's.
This fall, Saks Fifth Avenue also beefed up shoe departments in about a dozen of its stores. The move continues the luxury retailer's efforts at its flagship New York City store, which it first expanded in 2007 to include more shoes, better service and more stock room capability.
The flagship shoe department, which got a second remake this fall, now takes over the 8th floor, which previously also housed a gift area. The department, which is 40 percent larger, now is the second most productive department in terms of sales per square foot, behind the main floor, which sells cosmetics.