MILLIONS OF BRITONS TAKE ON CHRISTMAS DEBT

This year’s Christmas period will see almost one in three Britons slip into some form of debt to fund their holiday spending, according to an online survey on Christmas spending by YouGov. (pdf, 815 KB)

The online survey was conducted on behalf of Halifax and yielded some very interesting, if not alarming, results. According to the survey, the average person in the UK plans to spend nearly £38 on gifts for each loved one, with women planning to buy gifts for 10 people whereas men will give gifts to seven people on average.

Despite the financial crisis it seems that only 31% of the people surveyed have cut back on Christmas spending compared to previous years while 32% have increased their spending, with many of them going into debt to fuel their holiday purchases.

YouGov’s latest survey also found that more than 52% of the consumers do not save any money for their Christmas spending, while only 14% of the people surveyed said that they save money throughout the year to fund their Christmas spending.

Arguably the most alarming fact is that 31%, almost one in three, will go into debt to fund their Christmas spending, with 10% using their credit card to buy presents and planning to pay the money back later.

This year in particular more people than ever consider taking out a payday loan and 20% of all UK adults who plan to buy Christmas presents believe they will need to directly borrow money to pay for some of their purchases.

Rob Wood, Head of Halifax Savings, commented on the survey’s results: “It seems Christmas spending has not slowed down as we head into the holiday period and only a small number of people have felt the need to save throughout the year to cover the costs. It is encouraging, however, that most consumers will have the money [upfront] to cover the costs of Christmas presents. Christmas can be a tough time financially for families and advanced planning and saving is the best way to ensure there is enough money to go around for all the extra costs.”

Loan expert Tim Moss at MoneySupermarket.com also commented: “This year has been incredibly tough for consumers with the rising cost of living really hitting the nation’s wallets hard. It comes as no shock that such a high number of people will be tipped into debt this festive season, particularly as Christmas is a time when people generally increase their spending. With many people also being paid early in December, January payday may seem a long way off, so planning ahead is vital to avoid carrying over the debt burden into next year.”

Addressing the less financially secure people, Tim Moss added: “For the large number of people who are unable to save, there are a number of ways they can reduce the Christmas spending hangover by the New Year, and it is essential to use the right product to meet their needs. For example, a credit card offering zero per cent interest on purchases might be the sensible option if they are able to pay off the balance in full within the zero per cent period. Dipping into the unauthorised overdraft may prove costly for those unable to pay this off, particularly as the charges for dipping in the red may not hit until January.”

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