Mar 3, 2022
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Oxford's Street's "candy and tat shops" are on council hit list

Mar 3, 2022

Seen by many as downmarket eyesores, Oxford Street’s raft of candy stores in London, alongside tourist shops and phone repair shops, could soon disappear if Westminster Council gets its way.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

The council has outlined its intention to shed “questionable candy and tat shops” from the capital’s key shopping destination as a part of its £150 million rejuvenation plan for the street.

It’s calling for powers to be devolved so it can “curb irresponsible behaviour by people using short-term let properties”.

Rachael Robathan, leader of the council, said Oxford Street “must be rejuvenated and the ubiquitous US-style sweet shops and tourist shops must be replaced”, securing alternatives for empty retail units.

She said: “Nobody wants to live in an area with empty shops – that goes for Oxford Street as much as it goes for Oxford. 

 “Nobody wants their local high street to be filled with questionable candy or tat shops. But more importantly, nobody wants to see the loss of jobs, which would come with a long-term decline of an Oxford Street District filled with empty or derelict buildings.”

It’s thought more of these kinds of businesses are opening after the pandemic accelerated the decline of traditional bricks-and-mortar retail with landlords filling empty spaces on short-term leases.

Retailers including Topshop, House of Fraser, Debenhams and Gap have all closed Oxford Street stores leaving gaping holes in the landscape.

And although Robathan noted “there are beacons of hope”, such as IKEA moving to the street, and the Elizabeth Line finally due to open later this year, she added that “unless we do something, the decline of Oxford Street will continue.”

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