Holiday shoppers sink into long-term debt

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on December 29, 2006

Nearly one in four Americans (23%) will not be able to pay off their holiday shopping debts until March 2007 or later, accounting for some US$14.6 billion in interest accruing debt, according to the 2006 Holiday Shopping Poll from Consumer Reports.

More than one-quarter (26%) of the consumers surveyed said they use credit cards most often when holiday shopping, contributing to the US$63.6 billion charged to credit card accounts throughout the holiday shopping season.

According to Tod Marks, senior editor for Consumer Reports, "With the average US household saddled with US$9,000 in credit debt already, anything that significantly adds to that could be potentially devastating. Cash forces consumers to be much more disciplined, purchasing only what they can afford."

Survey findings
The Holiday Shopping Poll also found that:

  • Among those using credit cards to pay for holiday gifts, 17% or more planned to accumulate at least US$1,000 in holiday charges.
  • Re-gifting has become an increasingly attractive option for easing the financial burden of the holiday season, as an average of 13% of consumers said they were planning to re-gift items they had received. Men are more likely to re-gift (17%) than women (10%).
  • After the holidays, 16% of consumers said they planned to return at least some of the gifts they received. Perhaps surprisingly, men (21%) are more likely than women (12%) to return gifts to the store.
  • Shoppers, on average, expected to buy an average of about 15 gifts for the holidays. Married women planned to buy the most (19 gifts), while their husbands planned to buy 13 gifts.
  • On December 10th (with only two weeks left before Christmas), one-third of consumers surveyed (33%) had not yet started their holiday shopping.
  • Three in ten (30%) - representing 62 million shoppers in the US - said that they would not finish their holiday shopping until 23rd December or later, with 11% thinking they were unlikely to finish their holiday shopping until the evening of 24th December.

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