We are hugely concerned that the number of Candy Stores on Oxford Street has returned to the peak of 29 stores. This has been confirmed by various trade magazines and is based on research by The Local Data Company.
Shortly after the publication of this new data, the Council administration reported a raid on just two stores. Two stores every couple of months is just the tip of the iceberg. A more determined and consistent response is needed.
We are hearing reports of consumers' credit and debit cards being billed for unexpected amounts. For instance, one customer bought a vape for £25 but when they checked their bank statement they had been charged £100.
The Candy Stores are offering an ever-expanding range of counterfeit products such as vapes, fake Kenzo and Gucchi telephone covers and cannabis breakfast cereals from California which have not had a medical sign-off. The pricing of products does seem to vary depending on which sales staff carry out a transaction - and we are concerned that unsuspecting tourists may be charged more.
We will watch with interest whether the current Council administration brings under control the Candy Stores. More raids, not excuses are needed. Failure to do so will result in a major decline in Oxford Street which is already under severe pressure from both from online sales and uncertainty over the Marks & Spencer flagship store.