Which? research suggests that many consumers will be forced to rein in their spending and rely on debt this Christmas, with 50% of people admitting they are worried about the cost of presents and 40% planning to spend less this year.
An online survey of 1,284 British adults revealed heightened anxiety brought on by the expense of the festive period. Which? discovered that one in four people are planning to buy presents for fewer people than last year, while 7% said they could not even afford a Christmas tree.
In a bid to combat their financial restrictions, people are looking for innovative ways to ensure they are able to buy presents for their loved ones.
Spreading the cost
One third of people surveyed said they would start shopping early to spread the cost, more than 13% intend to pass on unwanted gifts to others and one in 10 plan to buy an artificial tree rather than a real one to reduce next year’s expense.
A worrying trend appears to be the reliance on debt to help people through the Christmas period with 16% saying they would use credit cards for the majority of their spending.
Richard Lloyd, executive director, Which? says: ‘Cash-strapped consumers are really feeling the impact of rising costs this Christmas. People are being forced to cut back.
‘But Christmas doesn’t have to be cancelled. Savvy shoppers can save money with online deals, discount days and pre-Christmas sales. You should compare prices between stores and don’t be afraid to haggle to get the best price.’
Real income suffers
Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that UK households are feeling the pinch as salaries fail to keep pace with inflation, effectively meaning a 3.5% drop in average income.
The median salary of a full-time UK worker has risen 1.4% to £26,200 in 2011, far below the current 5% consumer price index, used to measure inflation.
Which? has launched a one-stop shop on its website with advice on making money go further this festive season, returning gifts and getting good deals in the January sales. Which? money experts have also analysed hundreds of different credit cards, so that consumers can pick the best deal for them this Christmas.