Consumers Hope to Get Out of Holiday Debt Quickly

Three out of four American consumers plan to pay off their holiday shopping debt within three months, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Financial Services Roundtable.


Shopper with bags
Kirsty Wigglesworth
Shopper with bags

he survey also found that more than half of consumers are using cash or debit cards for their spending this season.

"There was speculation that consumers weren't going to do a lot of spending this year, and there's the constant worry ... that consumers weren't prepared to manage their spending," saidSteve Bartlett, chief executive of the roundtable. "We found neither of those to be true."

Bartlett said the survey indicated that 50 percent plan tospend the same amount online this year as they did last year, while 19 percent plan to spend more.

He said the survey did not ask whether consumers planned to increase their overall spending.

The survey was conducted the week before the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 22 and questioned 1,000 consumers nationwide. Financial Services Roundtable represents 100 financialservices companies providing banking, insurance and investment products and services.

The survey found that about 58 percent of consumers followed a budget in 2007. About one-third included holiday gift-giving and travel in their yearly budget.

"Some of that may be due to all the stuff in the news and the foreclosures. More people are worried," Bartlett said.

There have been significant concerns that holiday spending will be hurt this year by lower home values, tighter credit due to the subprime mortgage woes, and higher food and fuel costs.

Analysts have been buoyed by some early positive signs of holiday spending. More than 147 million U.S. shoppers hit the stores during the Black Friday weekend after Thanksgiving, up 4.8 percent from last year. And U.S. consumers spent $733 million bargain-hunting on the Internet on the Monday after Thanksgiving, up 21 percent from a year earlier.