Christmas cutbacks planned by concerned consumers

A survey has shown many consumers are finding ways to cut back this Christmas – but also that some could still get into a lot of debt.

Many Britons have been putting some careful budget planning measures in place ahead of Christmas, but others seem set to spend heavily and get into debt, a survey has found.

The study by Which? discovered four out of ten consumers are planning to reduce their spending this Christmas, with half of shoppers worried how much the presents they buy will cost.

Careful budget management appears to be a high priority for many, with a range of money-saving measures being implemented.

Among these, a third of shoppers have started their spending earlier to spread the cost out, while 13 per cent said they would be re-gifting, giving out unused and unwanted past presents.

Presents are not the only area where cutbacks are being planned, with one-in-ten buying an artificial tree instead of a real one so they can use it again next year, while seven per cent will be going without a tree at all.

Commenting on such measures, executive director of Which? Richard Lloyd said: "Cash-strapped consumers are really feeling the impact of rising costs this Christmas. People are being forced to cut back."

Those who do have to make economies may benefit from using a budget planner, as these can help people to identify where their money is going and indicate areas where cash can be saved – freeing up some money for spending on Christmas now and for other things in the new year and beyond.

Good budgeting can also mean avoiding debt, something the Which? survey indicated many people will fail to avoid.

It revealed a fifth of consumers will do most of their Christmas spending on plastic, which could see them racking up significant debts.

One alternative to standard cards is to use a prepaid credit card, which means the holder can only spend as much on it as they have loaded up the last time they did so online.

It means it is possible to set a budget for spending on plastic so shoppers can enjoy the convenience and consumer protection it brings, while knowing there are limits on their capacity to spend – helping to reduce the temptation to overdo it.

This week, psychologist Cliff Arnall said the amounts some spend on Christmas are so large as to be "beyond ridiculous". But with the right card and a budget planner, things can be kept very sensible.

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