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Britons face £2.05bn Christmas sales credit card hangover

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  • Britons face £2.05bn Christmas sales credit card hangover

    December 26, 2010

    Shoppers will owe £150m on plastic by February purely as a result of spending in this week's sales, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

    That comes on top of the £1.9bn racked up before Christmas on presents and food and drink, and follows figures that suggest insolvencies are at record levels.

    It is feared some of the debt is caused by pressure to 'beat' the increase in VAT on January 4.

    "This year, more than any other, we would appeal to people not to get carried away and to use credit carefully indeed," said a spokeswoman for the Consumer Credit Counselling Service.

    "With rising prices and the threat of one million more redundancies, budgeting for 2011 is going to be difficult for most people in Britain.

    "To think you are on top of your finances by paying off the minimum each month is a fool's paradise," she added.

    Research published today by consumer website Kelkoo reveals one in three shoppers are buying items earlier than planned in order to avoid the higher rate of VAT.

    However, it also found a similar number would pay for these purchases using credit cards or stores cards, many of which have interest rates that will wipe out any VAT savings unless consumers pay their balances off in full.

    According to the UK Payments Administration, 12 per cent of credit card holders pay only the minimum amount every month.

    The £2.05bn credit card burden was calculated by personal finance website Money.co.uk based on its previous pre-Christmas debt estimate of £1.9bn and a prediction by the Centre for Retail Research of a total post-Christmas retail splurge of £3.8bn.

    Chris Morling, managing director of Money.co.uk said: "With VAT set to rise it is easy to understand why so many seem set to spend big in the post-Christmas sales.

    "But the average interest rate on credit cards stands at just over 18 per cent so those debts can quickly mount up and wipe out any savings made."

    More than half the population is already in debt, according to latest Bank of England figures that show consumers owe £58bn on credit cards and a further £157bn on unsecured loans and overdrafts.

    Chris Simpson, marketing director of Kelkoo, said: "Retailers have spent the last few months encouraging consumers to 'shop now to avoid the VAT increase' which more than third seem to have taken on board.

    "However, the combination of lower disposable incomes, higher prices, and a reluctance to increase borrowing is likely to result in lower levels of spending, meaning retailers may have to endure a £2.2 billion fall in retail sales in the first quarter of 2011."

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/n...-hangover.html
    Filed Chapter 7 July 2010
    Attended 341 September 2010
    Discharged November 2010 Closed November 2010

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