Internet sales drive 300 per cent surge in fakes sent by post02-Aug-2012
Our visualisation of EU customs seizures shows cases of counterfeits sent by post have grown almost 300 per cent since 2009 on the back of increased internet sales.
The impact of online retail, which has made fake goods available to everyone from the privacy of their own home, is shown by the changing patterns of European Union (EU) customs seizures.
As shown in our visualisation below, a sharp rise in seizures of post containing counterfeits has pushed up the number of cases handled by EU officers over the past two years. In 2009 there were 15,000 postal seizures. By last year the figure had grown 280 per cent to 57,000 cases.
Over this time period counterfeits sent by post have gone from accounting for one-third of all fake goods cases to almost two-thirds. The jump relates directly to the rise of online sales.
The big leap came in 2010 but cases continued to increase last year. A rise in seizures of fake shoes, electrical goods, clothing and personal accessories sent by post drove the 17 per cent year-on-year increase in 2011.
Despite growth in these areas, counterfeit medicines are still the most commonly seized item in post. Last year fake drugs accounted for more than one-third of postal articles detained by the EU.
In terms of items seized post still lags behind other forms of transport though. In 2009 fakes sent by post accounted for less than one per cent of all items seized by EU customs. By last year this figure had increased but still fell short of two per cent.
The discrepancy between the proportion of cases and items involving counterfeits sent by post reflects the low-volume nature of internet sales. Someone ordering Viagra from a fake online pharmacy is likely ordering a packet or two. Those shipping by sea do so on wholesale scales.
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