Billions lost to fake bags, watches and jewelleryAs much as €3.5bn lost to counterfeits every year in Europe

03 March 2016

Counterfeit bags

As much as €3.5bn is lost each year to phoney jewellery, watches and handbags across Europe, new research has revealed. 

Two reports from the the EU's largest intellectual property agency reveal that 14% of jewellery and watch sales and 13% of handbag and luggage sales in the EU are lost due to counterfeiting.

The reports from the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) also claim that lost sales translate into 27,000 job losses, since legitimate manufacturers employ fewer people as a result of fewer sales.

Buying fake goods may fund crime, cost jobs and could also harm your health. You can use our guide to identify and report fake or counterfeit goods.

Where do the fakes come from?

Italy, France, Germany and Spain together account for approximately two thirds of the total lost sales in jewellery and watches across the 28 EU member states.

According to the reports, the UK handbag and luggage sector loses ₤149m annually as a result of counterfeit products in the marketplace – nearly 12% of all sales. 

The UK jewellery and watch manufacturing sector loses ₤138m annually as a result of counterfeiting.

Is it a bargain or a fake?

It's not just luxury products, such as handbags and jewellery, that are counterfeited – you should also exercise caution when making everyday purchases.

Reports from earlier this week suggest Proctor & Gamble is suing Poundstretcher following claims the budget retailer has been selling counterfeit Head & Shoulders shampoo and Ariel laundry products.

It's not always easy to spot a fake - especially as own-label products and branded products have increasingly become quite similar. 

A 2013 survey of Which? members found that nearly one in five had picked up an own-label product by mistake thinking it was the branded product. 

If you suspect a counterfeit ask yourself  three key questions: Is it suspiciously cheap? Does the product look like you’d expect? And can you trust where you’re buying it?

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