christmas lights There's a 50-50 chance they're not legal.

Christmastime piracy: half of all Christmas lights sold estimated to be black market

Short circuits, electrocution, burns or fires are among the risks for buyers

Half of the lights that will be sold for Christmas decorations this holiday season will be purchased on the black market and do not meet safety standards, says an industry spokesman.

Alberto Larios Segura, president of the Northern Electric and Solar Expo 2021, explained that of the 60 million units estimated to be sold this year, 50% fall short of official standards, or NOM, which he said can cause short circuits and fires, with serious consequences.

Analysts from the electrical sector, quoted by the newspaper El Universal, said buying bootleg lights could cause a number of hazards. “It’s a serious mistake to acquire a Christmas tree and lights on the black market, since normally these types of decorations do not have any certification that guarantees greater safety for the user.

Like any electrical appliance, a failure in the lights, or [a failure through] overloading the home’s electrical system, can generate short circuits, electrocution, burns or fires.”

To reduce the risk, the analysts recommended buying an artificial tree with a “fire resistant” or “non-flammable material” label. 

However, the problem isn’t isolated to lights: 50% of sales for extension cords are also made on the black market, which also fall short of safety standards, Larios said.

The black market lights are produced in China and are not exclusively sold in informal market environments, but also in hardware stores and by formal vendors, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, the concerns of legitimate sellers go beyond safety. The economic damage is also substantial: the Christmas light market is worth 6 billion pesos (about US $283 million), of which 3 billion will go to the black market.

The economic damage is growing as Christmas lights become an increasingly popular festive decoration: sales of all Christmas lights are expected to increase 10% this year, meaning about 60 million units, according to Conacomee, a business group representing sellers of electronic goods.

With reports from El Universal 

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