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Record sales figures trigger fears of consumer debt crisis

The volume of sales ringing through tills in shops all over the country has sparked concerns that many Brits may end up facing a debt crisis in the new year.

Shoppers desperate to bag a bargain shelled out a total of £2.8 billion on 27th December, on top of £1.8 billion already blown on Boxing Day bonanzas.

After a relatively restrained lead up to Christmas, retailers have been staggered by the volume of shoppers to hit the high streets, with the number of sales topping all expectations. Experts have estimated that once the final spend for the two has been calculated, all previous records of spending will be beaten – by a country which is in the midst of a cash crisis.

However, whilst the spending splurge may be just the shot in the arm that many retailers had been hoping for, debt experts are concerned that many shoppers are splashing out far more than they can afford.

Surveys have revealed that a large number of households have overspent during the season of goodwill and debt organisations are predicting a sharp rise in the number of individuals who contact them for help in the coming weeks.

Shopping centres and high streets were rammed on 27th December as a quarter of the country’s population aged over 10 – 12 million people – flocked to the shops to grab themselves a bargain, with many retailers offering as much as 70% off the price of goods.

High end stores, such as Harrods and John Lewis, joined in the drive to provide hefty discounts, offering in-store bargains as well as online deals. Large shopping centres in Manchester, Gateshead and Kent were reported as being jammed with traffic, as people tried to reach their favourite outlet.

The total amount of money being spent in the week after Christmas is expected to end up being in excess of £10 billion, making it the best week of the year for shops, thrashing the spend in the lead up to the 25th December. The bargain binging is expected to continue into January, with around £22.8 billion predicted to be splashed out by the third week of the new year. If this forecast proves to be correct, shoppers will have spent £338 million more than during the same period 12 months ago.

But as shoppers spent a whopping £77,000 each second across the UK – a mind-blowing £4.6 million each minute – analysts have said that many retailers may not be saved from insolvency because the profit on the goods they are selling is so small.

Some retailers have said that the last two days before Christmas were also record-breakers, far outstripping takings over the rest of the period and adding to the sales profits.

However, the amount being spent is leading to real concern amongst debt experts who have said that they fear Brits are reneging on their promises not to blitz their credit card to pay for items they cannot afford. Fears are beginning to mount that with many Brits still paying off last Christmas, unsustainable levels of debt are being accrued, which will mean many start the new year with a financial hangover they cannot shift.

Verdict, a top research firm for the retailing industry, has said that a number of sectors are likely to suffer next year, as consumers will try to cut back to make up for the overspend at Christmas. The only sector likely to improve is groceries, as cash-strapped Brits cook at home more to try and save money.

Debt organisations are geared up to provide the increased levels of support they fear will be necessary but have urged anyone struggling with money to get in contact sooner rather than later.

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