MORE than half of consumers expect to end up in debt to pay for the Christmas spending splurge.
People expect to shell out an average of €600 on the festive celebrations, with €180 alone to be spent on presents for children by parents.
Irish people have consistently emerged as among the highest spenders at Christmas compared with the rest of the EU in a range of different surveys.
But the financial pressure to spend is stretching household budgets, a survey commissioned by the Irish League of Credit Unions shows.
And most people say they find it harder to manage household bills over the mid-winter holiday, the credit union survey found.
Some 51pc of people told the surveyors they expect to get into debt at Christmas, with more women than men expecting to see their bank balance going into the red.
On average it will take consumers more than eight weeks to recover from the seasonal over-spending, the research carried out by iReach found.
Some 6pc of people have approached a moneylender about a loan to cover the costs. Licensed moneylenders are allowed to charge close to 200pc for loans.
Young adults are the group most likely to approach a moneylender, with 9pc having done so and a further 8pc considering doing so.
More men than women are likely to approach or consider approaching a moneylender.
Almost a third of consumers fear that money worriers will make this Christmas less enjoyable.
Parents in Ireland plan to spend on average €180 on Santa presents this year. This is a slight fall from €185 in 2013.
Close to seven out of 10 consumers either plan to or are shopping online for Christmas presents this year, up from last year.
Women and young adults are most likely to shop online in 2014.
Better value continues to be the primary reason for shopping online, followed by convenience.
Amazon is still the most popular online shopping destination for shopping in 2014.
Most shoppers tend to spend time browsing online first and then go into an actual shop to make a purchase.
Ed Farrell of the Irish League of Credit Unions said: “We all need to remember that Christmas really is about giving not robbing the family finances.”
He said people can be savvy when it comes to shopping at this time of year.
This could take the form of avoiding getting caught up in panic buying.
“Online can be great for locating some great value but keep an eye on the mail, courier or delivery costs.”
He added that setting a Christmas spending budget is more important now than ever, as is writing a list.
This will allow people to keep a tight rein on the Christmas shopping costs, he said.
“It is worrying to see that some people are considering using a moneylender this year. We would echo warnings from the Central Bank last week about avoiding high interest rate moneylenders.”
Mr Farrell said that if people feel they need to borrow, they should speak to their local credit union first.