With boot polish men and boys rooted to railway and bus stations, charging only a few rupees to shine one's shoes, it is not surprising that the shoe polish market hasn't grown. The hectic lifestyles has probably led to the demise of the old polish-at-home ritual.
Recently, though automatic shoe shine machines that work on sensor technologies have taken away the need to shine or clean ones shoes at home. These machines operate on infrared technology and many are lightweight and can be placed anywhere. These are found in the lobbies or toilets of hotels, shopping malls, corporate buildings, airports, offices and even golf clubs.
These machines consume very little electricity and shoes are polished in 30-40 seconds flat. Says Anand Ramanathan, manager, KPMG Advisory Services, "The availability of substitutes such as instant shoe-shines offering greater levels of convenience coupled with a time saving proposition has affected this category adversely."
Devanathan of Euro RSCG believes that this is also because of the changing trends of shoes altogether. "While employment in the uniformed services is visibly down, white collar uniforms themselves are on the downtrend, as our friends in the Vodafone Blackberry boys starkly portrayed," he says. According to him, from Jharsuguda to Jhumri Talaiya, and from Kargil to Kovalam, sports and fashion footwear, as they're called, have sneakily usurped the once venerable position occupied by shiny leather shoes and boots.