Retail boss lashes out at criticism of Oxford Street

Oxford Street is being unfairly stigmatized by a ‘misleading’ and ‘undermining’ narrative, a leading retail boss told The Mail this weekend.

Britain’s most famous shopping destination has received negative press recently. There have been reports of tacky candy stores and shoplifting, encouraged by the social media platform TikTok. Attention has also been paid to homeless people in shop doorways.

But Dee Corsi, head of the New West End Company which represents hundreds of businesses in Oxford Street, insists sweet shops make up ‘less than 1 per cent’ of the trading space.

She said the road will be ‘radically reimagined’ thanks to the arrival of new retailers including HMV and Ikea. Shoe brand Kurt Geiger also recently opened a store down the road.

Oxford Street is on the rise after Westminster City Council signed the first round of funding for a £90 million renovation to redesign junctions and pavements and introduce more greenery.

Stigmatised: Britain's most famous shopping destination has received negative press recently

Stigmatised: Britain’s most famous shopping destination has received negative press recently

Corsi admitted that Oxford Street is plagued by the same problems as many high streets across the country – including the increasing number of vacant properties, the cost of living crisis and shoplifting.

She added: “Each of these issues alone would pose a significant challenge. But conflating some of the biggest problems facing Britain with the overall desirability of Oxford Street only results in a misleading narrative that undermines the exciting transformation currently underway.”

A return of music retailer HMV to the mile stretching between Tottenham Court Road and Marble Arch by the end of the year represents “perhaps the most symbolic victory”, she added.

“The much-maligned sweet shop that stood beneath the iconic ‘His Master’s Voice’ sign is gone and inside the music giant is preparing to reopen its doors,” she said. The store will host live performances and signings by musicians.

The New West End Company is among business groups urging Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to abolish the hated tourist tax and reintroduce VAT-free shopping for tourists from abroad.

More than 400 business leaders have backed The Mail’s campaign to scrap the levy.