'People to borrow to fund Christmas'

First published in Business Daily

ACCORDING to the latest research from online credit information provider Equifax, three in 10 consumers are planning to borrow money to fund the coming festive season.

Neil Munroe, external affairs director, Equifax, said there was nothing wrong with that plan, adding: “But it’s really important that consumers budget so that they can afford to pay off their debts as soon as possible in the new year otherwise they could find Christmas 2012 hanging over them well into 2013 - and costing them a lot more than originally planned.

“Clearly, the current economic climate is making balancing finances quite difficult for some families and it’s understandable that they might want to put financial pressures at the back of their minds so that they can celebrate Christmas.

“But, with our research revealing that it took between two and six months for a quarter of consumers to pay off Christmas 2011 debts, it’s a concern that consumers already under financial pressure could be paying extra interest in 2013 and that’s especially the case considering that one in 10 consumers said they don’t budget for Christmas spending.”

The fragile state of UK consumer finances is also highlighted by the Equifax research, which found that nearly 65% of consumers have seen an increase in their monthly outgoings in 2012 and three-quarters say they now have less disposable income than this time last year.

“This could be another reason for any debt incurred for Christmas 2012 having an impact on finances well into 2013, especially as nearly half of respondents to our survey said that they plan to spend the same or more than last year,” added Mr Munroe.

When it comes to how much consumers plan to spend on their Christmas celebrations, just over 13% will be spending more than £500, although the same percentage plan to spend between just £100 and £150.

The research also provides a revealing insight into some of the steps consumers are planning to take this year to save on the cost of the festivities, with over 13% planning to downsize on the turkey and 17% aiming to re-use unwanted presents.

The popularity of discount vouchers and retailer reward points also appear to be playing an important role in funding Christmas 2012, with half of respondents citing both as helping with festive finances.

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