Around one in eight British shoppers has bought a counterfeit watch, handbag or other product in the last year as it becomes more socially acceptable, a study by lawyers Davenport Lyons and Ledbury Research found.

The most dramatic change in attitudes toward fakes is that they have reached their tipping point. They have become socially acceptable, the study said.

Two-thirds of Britons readily admit to peers that they have bought a counterfeit product, it showed.

But it also that found just under a third of the buyers of fake goods said the experience made them more likely to buy the genuine article.

Not everyone wants to be seen with counterfeits.

It's socially unacceptable to have fake designer goods in this place ... the more expensive the better, and make sure your Todds handbag is thrust right into someone else's face when you're in the lift, said one analyst at a global bank, who declined to be named.


Burberry, famous for its camel, red and black check fabrics, has slipped to number three in counterfeit sales behind leather goods maker Luis Vuitton and Gucci, owned by retailer PPR, the study said.

It's not a table we would want to be top of. The availability of counterfeit Burberry goods has declined ... designers have focused away from the Burberry check, and we have a strong IP (intellectual property) team, Stuart Lockyear, Burberry's director of IP, told Reuters.

Last year just under 1 million people bought a counterfeit Luis Vuitton item, the study found. The French luxury goods maker is famous for its handbags, luggage and purses.

Market stalls are the primary source of fake goods, but the trade has increased also as people travel more to destinations where such products are more readily available and access online Web sites such as eBay, the study said. EBay, which the study said accounts for 29 percent of counterfeit goods purchases, states on its Web site it does not allow the sale of counterfeit goods and that any such listings will be removed.

Counterfeits, unauthorized replicas or unauthorized copies are not permitted on eBay, it says.

Lockyear said Burberry devoted a lot of resources to eBay and worked closely with the site, ending more than 30,000 auctions last year.