Manufacturers could be making children’s shoes too small in a bid to get parents to buy new ones more frequently, researchers claim.
A survey in Austria found 86% of youngsters' footwear was shorter than advertised — some by up to four sizes.
The study, which looked at 1,898 pairs of shoes, was carried out by a Salzburg health insurance provider and the website kidsfeet.info.
"It is likely that parents are deliberately forced to buy new children's shoes more frequently,” said head of research Wieland Kinz.
“86% of children's shoes are produced far too short. This fact makes us wonder, because there seems to be a system of the manufacturers.
“It is likely that parents will have to buy new children's shoes more frequently. In return, the companies even accept that the children will suffer foot damage."
The researchers said previous studies had established a clear connection between shoes being too short and permanently crooked big toes.
They have recommended parents measure the inner length of their children’s potential new shoe to be certain of the size.