Average consumer will take 10 weeks to pay off Christmas debt
THE average Northern Ireland consumer will still be recovering from overspending at Christmas well into March.
Research by the Irish League of Credit Unions has found almost two-thirds of people are worried about their finances ahead of the festive season.
But it will not stop them spending at average £592 this Christmas.
And 53 per cent of people say they will borrow to make ends meet, going £389 into the red on average.
Aside from spending on gifts, decorations and food, three-quarters of respondents to the survey said heating their home would be the most difficult expense to cover over the holiday season.
The Credit Union said parents spend an average of £239 on gifts for children with consumers taking 10 weeks to recover from overspending.
Most (53 per cent) said they spend too much at Christmas while 48 per cent described it as "a very stressful time of year".
Brian McCrory of the Irish League of Credit Unions said: “We all need to remember that Christmas really is about giving.....not robbing the family finances".
"People can be savvy when it comes to shopping at this time of year.
"For example, starting early to avoiding getting caught up in 'panic buying' can really help keep costs low and provide the family member sufficient time to search for the best deal.
"Online can be great for locating some great value but keep an eye on the mail, courier or delivery costs.
“Setting a Christmas spending budget is more important now than ever as is writing a list.
"This will allow people to be in a better position to keep a tight rein on the Christmas shopping costs.
"Avoid pay day loan companies and moneylenders but if you feel that you need to borrow speak to your local credit union first."
Meanwhile, debt recovery charity Christians Against Poverty (Cap) urged shoppers to avoid trouble by not taking out Christmas credit.
Its regional manager in the north Chris Cupples said: "The point is this, none of your family and none of your friends want you to struggle through January and February with essentials like paying your household bills because you spent out on them.
“If you are thinking of a Christmas loan or maxing out the credit cards or overdraft, we want you to re-consider and take action to avoid worry in 2016.
"Anyone already struggling with debt can seek free face to face help from one of the 21 local Cap debt centres by calling us on 0800 328 0006."