By Daniel Hunter

Counterfeit goods have gone mainstream with British adults regularly buying counterfeit alcohol, cigarettes, medicines, films, music, clothes and car parts, says a new study by PwC published today (Wednesday).

“Counterfeits have an obvious impact on profit and jobs, yet people increasingly see access to fakes as a normal, consumer choice,” Mark James, PwC anti-counterfeiting team, said.

London is the most fake-infested region, followed by Northern Ireland. Scotland, by comparison, is a model of rectitude with significantly fewer fake purchases than the national average. The less affluent buy more fakes across the board.

The vast majority of people believe counterfeiting to be morally wrong (though 20% of 18-24 year olds disagree), yet it seems many are able to overcome these scruples. Price and affordability are the top drivers for those who consciously choose fake products, with only a third of people worried about getting caught.

People are, however, concerned about the safety of counterfeit products - and with good reason. Some 18% of consumers admit to buying fake alcohol, even though - according to Drinkaware - substitutes for ethanol in fake alcoholic drinks include chemicals used in cleaning fluids, nail polish remover, car windscreen wash and methanol - more commonly used in anti-freeze.

“The digital economy and global supply chains have made tracking counterfeit goods and measuring their economic damage fiendishly complex," Mark James, PwC anti-counterfeiting team, said.

Consumers believe responsibility for stopping the sale of counterfeit goods lies primarily with the police, followed by government then, intriguingly, themselves, above online markets and manufacturers.

“Companies invest significant amounts of time, money in effort in developing their products. Manufacturers and buyers of counterfeit goods strike right at the heart of that. Ultimately, companies are seeing their brand, reputation and
revenues stolen,” Mark James, PwC anti-counterfeiting team, said.

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