Oxford Street candy and souvenir shops drop by third after 'fleecing customers and evading tax'

Bags of good seized by Westminster City Council on Oxford Street Credit: Westminster City Council

The number of sweet and souvenir shops on Oxford Street has dropped by a third after Westminster City Council took legal action over tax evasion and complaints of customers being fleeced.

The stores sprung up in London's West End during lockdown and were widely blamed for 'dragging down the tone of the area.'

The council said widespread evasion of business rates added up to around £8 million.

"The number of sweet and souvenir stores on Oxford Street has dropped by a third, from 30 to 21, as a combination of trading standards and legal action starts to bite.

"In recent weeks we have wound up three sweet shop operations for non-payment business rate and been paid £250,000 in business rates arrears by two other companies to avoid court action," said Councillor Adam Hug, leader of Westminster City Council.

Seized goods being taken away in the back of a car by the council Credit: Westminster City Council

More raids are being carried out on shops where the council suspects unsafe or illegal items are being sold.

"Our most recent raid recovered 14,000 suspect items from just two shops on Oxford Street - the largest haul we have ever seen in one operation," Councillor Adam Hug said. "In the meantime, we keep working with the police and central Government and urging ministers to ensure HMRC and the National Crime Agency have the resources they need to fight to wider suspected illegality around some of these venues.

"For unscrupulous sweet shop traders on Oxford Street, life is becoming increasingly sour," he added.

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