£17bn of fake goods 'costing tens of thousands of British jobs'
Counterfeit goods have cost the UK economy 21.6 billion US dollars (£17.3 billion) and destroyed 72,000 British jobs in 2016, a new report claims.
The rise of online shopping has bolstered the counterfeit economy, with UK consumers now twice as likely to see fakes on sale online as they were a year ago , according to new data released by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) and online brand specialist NetNames.
Cigarettes, food, luxury goods and alcohol are among the fake goods which have entered the UK market and are putting British jobs at risk.
"With legitimate sales being squeezed by fake goods, legal businesses are able to support fewer staff. As a result, counterfeiting is estimated to have destroyed around 2.5 million jobs worldwide," the report said.
Counterfeits are now costing G20 governments more than 125 billion dollars (£100 billion) collectively every year, as innovation slows, customer trust erodes and governments divert funds to fighting organised crime.
About 20 organised crime groups are known to be involved in food and drink fraud in the UK, with food fraud thought to be costing families up to £1.17 billion a year.
The report also found that 2.5 million British shoppers have either knowingly or accidentally bought counterfeit electronics over the past 12 months.
Meanwhile, more than 2,000 fake goods websites, including those imitating luxury brands Burberry, Longchamp and Abercrombie & Fitch, have been shut down since the start of 2015.
Stuart Fuller, director of commercial operations at NetNames, said: "Whilst we know counterfeiting is an increasing global issue, this report clearly highlights the shocking economic impact it is having on markets across the globe.
"Counterfeiting is not only an economic issue, but also a health and societal issue - with dangerous counterfeit goods threatening the health of consumers, as well as the highly concerning link between counterfeiting and organised crime.
"These findings must act as a further drive for global brands and enforcement bodies to work in collaboration to crack down on this illegal activity and protect the innovation and competition amongst businesses."