Plans to ban the sale of pre-lit candles have come under fire from a vocal group of campaigners, who claim that this is just another example of unwanted 'nanny state' interference. The popularity of decorative scented candles has grown considerably in recent years and annual sales now easily outnumber all other forms of pointless overpriced tat. Inevitably, competition within the market is fierce and retailers looking for an edge have enjoyed a considerable advantage by selling their candles 'pre-lit'.
"Our customers are mainly busy professional types," said Karen Wick, retail director for Crapbuy, a chain which specialises in supplying useless ephemera and unusable gadgets. "They don't have time to waste on mundane tasks such as lighting their own candles. Many of them probably wouldn't know how. And, quite frankly, why should they? Well, when they buy candles from Crapbuy, they don't have to. We give the customer what they want, which is why we are the market leader."
Whilst she no doubt speaks for many, Ms Wick's opinions are not shared with everyone within the industry. Several retailers have spoken about the difficulty of storing pre-lit candles and have also drawn attention to the drastically reduced shelf life of the product. One or two have gone so far as to raise the ever-so-slight possibility of a conflagration, and have noted that seeing customers on fire while queuing up at the checkout might have a negative impact on sales.
With opinions so polarised, this particular burning issue looks set to inflame passions for some time to come. However, it's likely that the outcome will be of little consequence as it appears that sales of pre-lit candles are already starting to decline following the introduction of 'pre-trashed' candles - candles which the retailer will dispose of for you at the point of purchase, saving you the trouble of having to take them home and bin them yourself.