Shoes are viewed more and more by the operators of major department stores as a hot-selling item, especially in major cities that attract a lot of tourists from China and other distant foreign countries who are looking for choice. Like Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Selfridges in London, Italy's Rinascente is now planning to open a new shoe section of 1,200 square meters in its flagship store in Milan next July, in time for the fall/winter 2012 selling season, which it hopes will generate annual sales of €20 million.

The new project is being coordinated with Kurt Geiger, whose relatively small shoe concession at the store doubled its turnover last year from €6 million in 2009. The Rinascente store in Milan, which didn't sell shoes before, has also opened a 2,500-m² space featuring all kinds of objects of Italian craftmanship. It wants to do the same in Florence, in Venice and in its future new flagship store in Rome, with some regional specificities, targeting tourists visiting from China and other countries.

There is movement along the same lines also in the U.S., where Nordstrom has led the way in showing how a department store can capitalize on a good assortment of international footwear brands. In New York, a big city where Nordstrom's regular format still doesn't have a presence, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's have already revamped the shoe floors of their flagship stores.

Another big operator in the same city, Bloomingdale's, more than doubled the shoe floor of its main store on 59th Street to 20,000 square feet earlier this month, boosting in particular its women's section. It is also planning to expand the shoe department of its store in the SoHo district of New York.