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One in five Brits will be paying off their Christmas debt at Easter

by LLB Reporter
9th Jan 23 10:44 am

As we enter the new year and the festivities have come to an end, Brits are recovering from the financial aftermath of Christmas, but how long will it take them to pay off the debt?

Following on from their previous Christmas finance report, credit management company Lowell has conducted further research[1] into the impact the festive season has had on UK household finances between 2021, 2022 and going into 2023.

In 2021, the average British adult spent £548 on presents alone[2], and with 55% more Brits feeling the pressure to buy extra in 2022, it could be questioned how much debt people have built up going into 2023.

What is the debt aftermath of Christmas?

Almost one in five (17%) Brits said it will take until Easter to pay off their Christmas debt, that’s a third of the year paying back what was spent over the festive period, with a further 21% taking two months to clear their debt.

How long does it take to recover from Christmas spending? 2022
Less than a month 15%
1-2 months 21%
3-4 months 17%
5-6 months 7%
7-8 months 3%
9-10 months 2%
11-12 months 1%
Over 12 months 2%
I don’t have to recover from Christmas spending 33%

Furthermore, 18% of Brits said their debt could have reached at least £600 at Christmas, and one in 10 even claimed that they expected to spend £1,000, and that’s not including any late fees or additional interest accrued on balances carried past the due date.

Whilst credit can provide the flexibility to spread the cost of larger purchases, it must be used responsibly. With spiralling interest rates increasing the cost of borrowing, those unable to pay off the debt in full will be left struggling if an unexpected expense occurs this year.

With the annual percentage rate (APR) on UK credit cards reaching an all-time high this in 2022[3], it could be easy to be left with even more money worries in 2023.

For example, using just the monthly minimum payment of £30 to pay off £600 in credit card debt (with an average APR of 21.8%, and no further spending on the card)[4] could take over two years[5] to repay, with an interest cost of £135.

What are the main spending pressures people felt at Christmas?

34% of people in the UK anticipated that they bought more than they needed, a 55% increase since 2021. More than a quarter (28%) expected to spend beyond their budget, and 18% felt under pressure to buy more expensive luxury items despite inflating costs.

What were the main pressures faced at Christmas? 2022 2021 % change
Buying more than is needed 34% 22% 55%
To overspend on what I can afford 28% 21% 33%
Buying large, expensive items 18% 14% 29%
Buying more premium brands 15% 13% 15%

The impact of social media also added a strain to people’s buying habits, with 15% more Brits overstretching themselves financially to buy premium brands compared to 2021. Plus, one in 10 (10%) admitted to feeling pressure from Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to keep up with new trends.

Whilst Christmas is a wonderful time of year, it can be a financial worry for many, with a quarter (25%) of Brits claiming they had to cut back as much spending as possible due to the cost-of-living crisis. Furthermore, 25% of people were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to heat their homes amid rising energy bills, and 14% put up fewer Christmas lights as a way to keep costs down.

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