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Brits will not clear Christmas debt until summer 2020

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
It will take the average Brit seven months to pay off their Christmas debt as struggling families turn to credit to finance the day.

Seven in 10 people said they won’t be able to comfortably afford Christmas, but families who bow to pressure to spend will turn to credit to pay for it.

Nearly a third said they would borrow money to cover the festive period and a quarter of these said they intended to use a ‘buy now, pay later’ scheme.

The research from debt charity StepChange reveals that younger people – those aged 16-34 – are more likely to turn to buy now pay later deals (25%), putting them at risk of problem debt.

Those who do borrow money to buy presents and food for Christmas admitted that it will take an average of seven and a half months to pay back the debts.

A third of the 1,533 people polled said they will have to cut their spending to afford Christmas, such as fewer takeaways, nights out and even on food shopping.

The data comes as StepChange launches its ‘The Real Cost of Christmas’ campaign, highlighting the potential long-term impact of credit taken out over the festive season.

Richard Lane, director of external affairs at StepChange, said: “Celebrating the festive season is fun but getting into debt for it isn’t. Retailers and credit providers must not encourage over-borrowing at the expense of people’s long-term financial health.

“If it’s going to take many months to repay what you borrow to pay for Christmas, it’s worth pausing for a moment to think about whether your friends and family would really want you to suffer financially as a result of your generosity. Most people would much prefer their loved ones to have a financially happy new year than a swanky present.

“If you’re already in debt, don’t let the pressure or expectation that Christmas can put on you make you feel you have to spend. Free, confidential debt advice from reputable charities can help you.”

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