Hideous artificial materials and impending blisters can be consigned to the past as the supermarkets learn to walk the walk with great value footwear, says Laura Weir of Drapers

When supermarkets first introduced full footwear ranges less than 10 years ago, the shoes looked uncomfortable, artificial and miserable. They screamed blisters and were conducive to the unpleasant phenomenon you get when man-made fibre and cheesy feet meet moisture.

Today, however, the high street footwear sector is being kept on its toes by mainstream supermarkets who are upping their game in the category by rolling out trendy, value footwear. Spring/summer 2007 will be no different.

No longer is the footwear market dominated by the specialist. The percentage of the market held by the likes of Clarks, Barratts and Office fell from nearly 70% in 2001 to 57% in 2006 as supermarkets made the most of fast-fashion supply chains and the shoppers' hunger for a one-stop shopping experience grew.

According to research group Mintel, footwear sales in the UK are expected to increase by 17% to £7.6bn by 2010, and supermarkets will take a large chunk of this market thanks to price-competitive ranges that are also fashion-literate.

As the planet heats up and seasons become later, supermarkets will be able to maximise on strengths in convenience with spring/summer footwear lines that include lightweight flip-flops and sandals, with the ballet pump silhouette expected to outstrip other styles.

Although not recognised for top-notch quality shoes or a good standard of footwear service, supermarkets can seal the deal with price, no matter how hot the trends are.

Footwear is a prominent part of the George fashion offer in most Asda stores. Asda's general manager for ladieswear buying, Sara Bradley, says trends in store don't differ to the high street but offer the same key looks at a value price. She has earmarked white as a key colour for spring, as did Fendi, Missoni and Versace on the catwalks of Milan and Paris, showing how seamlessly the translation takes place between high fashion and supermarket shelves.

Strong trends such as animal prints will run on from the autumn/winter season and with a little nod to designers Alberta Ferretti and Burberry Prorsum come vintage-inspired dancing shoes in metallics from silvers to bronze, which are likely to fly off the racks. Straw and cork wedges will become an extension of last year's 70s trend, and sequined flip-flops will add a touch of sparkle.