Christmas shoppers warned as Britain floods with dodgy electrical goods

30 November 2012

Avoiding counterfeit and sub-standard goods

On Christmas payday weekend, the ESC warns bargain hunters against dangerous counterfeit electrical goods.

  • Highest level of counterfeit goods in three years enters UK
  • Hair stylers, mobile phone chargers and electronic games among top fakes
  • Faulty electrical goods are number one cause of severe electric shock in UK and cause thousands of house fires each year
  • Concern as one in five adults intend to buy an electrical item as a Christmas present this year and bargain hunting seen as a top priority
  • Electrical Safety Council issues Safe Shopping guide to keep loved ones safe

An influx of counterfeit electrical goods combined with the British appetite for bargain gifts will lead to millions of potential death traps nestling under Christmas trees and in children’s stockings this year, the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) has warned.

2012 has seen the highest level of counterfeit goods crossing over the border in three years, with 4.1 million items seized throughout the year. Hair stylers, mobile phone chargers and electronic games are among the top electrical fakes.

Counterfeit electrical goods almost always contain incorrect or faulty parts that can overheat or break just days after purchase, increasing the risk of fire, serious shock or even electrocution. Faulty electrical goods are the number one cause of severe electric shock in the UK  and cause thousands of house fires each year.

With new ESC research showing that one in five  Britons intend to buy an electrical item as a festive gift this year, the charity has issued safety guidance to prevent shocks and fires causing devastation to families and property this Christmas.

Concern for safety is heightened as two thirds  of those buying an electrical item this year will go online, where it is even easier for dodgy goods to slip through the net.

Sophisticated printing on packaging and labels  mean that fakes are becoming increasingly hard to spot while a British appetite for bargain hunting compounds the problem; a third of adults consider getting a bargain a top priority when shopping for Christmas gifts .

The ESC is urging Christmas shoppers to be very careful when buying presents for loved ones this year. The charity has created top tips [at end] and a safe shopping guide, available at, which contains hints and tips on how to spot dodgy traders and avoid the fakes to help keep your home and family safe this Christmas.

Emma Apter from the Electrical Safety Council said:

“Many people see cheap electrical goods as a bargain but if the product turns out to be fake these goods are, at best, a waste of money. At worst, they could result in a house fire, severe injury or even the death of a loved one.

“One very worrying aspect of the research is that a quarter of people would happily buy counterfeit goods to give to a friend or loved one . Whilst everyone loves a bargain, fake goods can and do put lives at risk – with the increase in counterfeit goods entering the market, this is a real concern.

“We are urging people to read our Safe Shoppers guide before hitting the shops - if a deal looks too good to be true, then it almost certainly is.”

Trading Standards Institute is supporting the campaign to keep shoppers safe this Christmas following the rise in counterfeit products. Suzanne Kuyser, Director of Communications and Policy at Trading Standards Institute said:

“We welcome this initiative from the Electrical Safety Council; nothing could be worse than giving an electrical gift that endangers life because it does not meet safety standards. It is vital people are provided with as much information as possible on how to shop safely for their loved ones. There are stringent safety regulations that manufactures must meet, and it is only those who cut corners and produce counterfeits who put lives at risk”

For more information please contact Penny Walshe on 020 3463 5125 or at