Wednesday 18 October 2017

Half of us will end up in debt just to cover cost of Christmas

Householders will shell out an average of €590 for Christmas this year.
Householders will shell out an average of €590 for Christmas this year.

Charlie Weston, Personal Finance Editor

HALF of adults will end up with a sack full of debt after paying for the Christmas festivities.

And the average amount borrowed is set to be €410 per person this year, which represents two-thirds the total money that will be spent to ensure families have festive fun.

Householders will shell out an average of €590 this year, up from €527 in 2012, according to a survey commissioned by the Irish League of Credit Unions.

Most people surveyed believe they spend too much at Christmas, and men expect to spend more on Christmas than women this year.

The spending splurge will mean that it will take most families around two months to pay off the borrowings that they build up over the holiday period.

But one in 12 adults is so strapped that it will take more than half of next year to repay the money they have borrowed to buy gifts, presents, food and drink for the seasonal blowout.

And one in 12 also admit they approached a moneylender to borrow to fund the celebrations. Those between the ages of 18 and 34 are most likely to use a moneylender.

Interest rates charged by moneylenders can be as high as 200pc.

Most of those who will end up in the red for Christmas blame the recent Budget for their financial woes.

Spending

The Government and retailers were hoping that the earlier October Budget this year would have less of an impact on sentiment and spending than the usual early December announcements on taxes and cuts.

But three-quarters of consumers believe the recent Budget and the economic climate will impact on their spending.

Parents are set to spend around €185 on presents and gifts for children, the market research carried out on 1,000 adults by iReach found.

Some 65pc plan to shop online.

Women and young adults are more likely to take to the internet to buy goods.

The majority of shoppers tend to browse for products online before going to the physical shop to make a purchase.

Most shoppers feel secure when paying for goods and services online. However, about one-quarter get worried that their details will be stolen.

Younger people and males feel most secure when shopping online.

Large numbers are set to leave the country to shop for the festivities. Over one-third will shop outside the jurisdiction, with most heading to Northern Ireland.

For those who do their shopping at home, Tesco is set to be the big winner, with around one in 10 shoppers preferring it to Dunnes, Aldi, Lidl, SuperValu and other stores.

Chief executive of the Irish League of Credit Unions Kieron Brennan warned householders that if they cannot afford to pay for something without a loan, then they cannot afford it.

Mr Brennan called on the Government to cap the interest rates that moneylenders can charge.

“No such cap currently exists but, in practice, the ceiling is just below 190pc. With the level of personal indebtedness and financial exclusion in Ireland, there is a real danger of compounding the problem by allowing legal moneylenders charge excessive rates,” he said.

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