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Fears of debt crisis as Scots shop on credit

© PAChristmas shoppers are projected to spend much more on credit this year.
Christmas shoppers are projected to spend much more on credit this year.

Almost half of people in Scotland plan to spend less this Christmas – but many still intend to fund their festive season through debt, raising concerns among finance charities.

A poll by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) revealed that 45% of people said they would be cutting back this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the research by YouGov also showed that 16% intend to pay for Christmas on credit, leading to fears about the most financially vulnerable in society.

CAS financial health spokesperson Sarah-Jayne Dunn said: “This will be a Christmas like no other, and given the year we’ve had it’s understandable if people feel the need to overspend to make up for what has been a miserable year for many. But we really want to urge people not to fall into that trap. A New Year drowning in debt is just going to make things even worse.”

The study, released ahead of Cyber Monday tomorrow, showed that 13% of people are planning to pay for Christmas on credit cards, agreed overdrafts or secured loans – with a further 3% using payday loans, unagreed overdrafts or buy now pay later products which are widely available.

Only 5% said they are planning to spend more this Christmas and, of those, 41% want to make their family feel better after a tough year. CAS is urging people not to rack up unmanageable debt through Christmas spending that will put pressure on them in the New Year. The charity is also encouraging people to visit their online Money Map tool at www.moneymap.scot, which was launched last week. This offers people a round-up of options to improve their incomes and cut their living costs.

The Poverty Alliance – a network of charities in Scotland that work to help society’s most vulnerable – echoed the concerns over debt problems.

The organisation’s director, Peter Kelly, said: “For people already struggling to stay afloat, the winter months can bring even more struggle, with many more people being forced into the most difficult of decisions like whether to heat their home, pay their rent, or buy their children a Christmas present. With the impact of the pandemic, this year will be even more difficult than most.”