Business

World Cup: One-in-four 'would buy fake goods'

fake England shirt
Image caption Close check: one of the fake replica shirts found by the UK Borders Agency

Nearly a quarter of UK consumers say they would buy fake World Cup branded goods to save money, according to a survey by the internet shopping search engine, Kelkoo.

It says counterfeiting of South Africa 2010 products is rife, with about a fifth of goods likely to be fake.

And it adds that this could lose legitimate businesses some £50m ($72m).

The most common fake goods are expected to be replica shirts and other sportswear.

The survey coincides with the announcement by the UK Border Agency that its most recent seizure of fakes was of 1000 replica England football shirts timed for the World Cup market.

'False economy'

The survey found that most people said they had not bought fakes, at least knowingly.

The majority - 65% - said they had not bought counterfeits, 24% said they had done so unwittingly, with 11% admitting to have bought knocked-off goods in full knowledge of the fact they were not genuine.

It is not necessarily lack of funds that drives people to fakes. An earlier study, by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) found that it was generally the better off that bought such items.

Kelkoo UK managing director Bruce Fair said: "Big sporting events like the World Cup provide retailers and sporting manufacturers with a great opportunity to ramp up the sales of official merchandise."

He went on to warn that with fakes becoming more difficult to spot, the price may not even be lower than that for the real thing.

"People who knowingly buy fake goods because they are cheaper are likely to find it a false economy, as they can often sacrifice quality and still pay out high sums of money relative to the actual value of the product."

Lethal and costly

The practice of buying fake goods is not a victimless crime.

Steve Terry from the UK Border Agency said: "Most of these goods have not had to go through safety tests which are compulsory for the genuine items. So it could be the thing you are using has the potential to be lethal."

He added that buying fakes meant a dent in the amount of taxes raised for the country. "It is estimated something like £550m a year nationally is lost to the Exchequer and those are taxes which have to be made up by the rest of us."

The findings come as the latest retail sales figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) show that legitimate retailers are already benefiting from the World Cup effect.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said: "The run-up to the World Cup helped sales of televisions, though this was largely discount-driven. With the tournament getting closer, there should be a further uplift and to other football merchandise such as flags and replica kits.""

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