Many families around Ireland are deep in preparations for the Christmas holidays and though it is a time of joy, it puts a lot of pressure on hard pressed parents who are likely to be struggling to manage the household budget. It is so important to know your limits in terms of your finances and to avoid unnecessary debt this Christmas. This week we published the results of our Christmas spending survey and we are urging people to be mindful about what they are spending this Christmas. We would also strongly urge people to avoid using moneylenders. Borrowing from high cost moneylenders can result in many getting trapped in a cycle of debt from which it is very hard to break free.
In terms of sentiment ahead of Christmas 2014 - 29% people feel better about their financial situation in the run up to Christmas 2014, this represents a slight improvement compared to 25% in 2013. Men (32%) compared to women (27%) are happier about their finances. 48% feel that the recent Budget will have little impact on ability to spend this Christmas with 49% feeling that money will be as tight has it has been in the past years.
We all know that December in particular is an expensive month which can put a serious strain on household budgets. Our survey finds that three-quarters find managing their household bills and expenses much harder over the Christmas period with 51% struggling to heat their home, 40% struggling to manage their utility bills, 39% struggling with the mortgage/rent payments and 35% struggling with food costs.
While many people tell us that they are feeling a little bit more positive about the economy, 30% fear money worries will spoil Christmas 2014. This is down from 33% in 2013. 60% say that Christmas will still be enjoyable regardless of money worries. The numbers who say they will really struggle to give their families a happy Christmas (5%) is down from 10% in 2011 at the height of the economic crisis.
Irish consumers expect to spend on average €600 this Christmas compared to €590 at Christmas 2014. Men are expected to spend more than women this Christmas, spending on average €614in 2014 (€600 in 2013 / €513 in 2012) compared to women €588 in 2014 (€585 in 2013 / €537 in 2012)
The provincial breakdown of spend in 2014 is as follows: Dublin - €608 / Rest of Leinster - €611 / Munster – €592 / Ulster - €590 / Connacht - €578. Parents in Ireland plan to spend on average €180 on Santa presents this year, this is a slight fall from €185 in 2013.
There is a strong belief (71%) that Irish people spend too much money on Christmas but 60% said there is nothing better than a proper Irish Christmas. For 59% spending time with family is the most important part of Christmas.
36% will have sufficient money in their monthly income to pay for Christmas, this is a drop from 40% in 2013. More males (39%) than females (34%) are in this position. A further 26% are likely to dip into their general savings or 18% into savings specifically for Christmas. 51% find that they will have to borrow money to pay for Christmas 2014. On average the amount being borrowed is €417, up from €410 at Christmas 2013. More females (52%) are likely to borrow than men (49%). 7% are likely to use their credit cards as their main source of finance to pay for Christmas celebrations, with more men (9%) than women (5%) likely to do so in 2014.
In 2014, 6% people have approached or will consider approaching a moneylender to borrow for Christmas expenses. Young adults are the group most likely to approach a moneylender with 9% having done so and a further 8% considering doing so. More men than women are likely to approach or consider approaching a moneylender.
On average it will take consumers 8 ½ weeks to recover from over-spending at Christmas time, this is down slightly from 9 weeks in 2013. A further 6% are taking 6 months to recover and 4% 9+ months to recover. Males consumers recover more quickly (8 weeks) compared to females (9 weeks)
35% of consumers will do their Christmas shopping outside of the Republic of Ireland (up from 29% in 2013). Females are more inclined to their shopping elsewhere (38%) compared to males (30%)
28% of all Christmas food shopping is likely to take place in Tesco (drop from 31%) in 2013, 21% are likely to shop in Dunnes (on par with 2013) Aldi & Lidl continue to increase in popularity (combined 30% of consumers likely to shop) up from 26% in 2013.
Consumers continue to show mixed sentiment towards perceived value of goods and services on the high street in Ireland. 39% feel there isn’t good value at all, 45% feel that they need to shop around to get good value. Only 16% felt that there was good value to be found on the high street.
55% of all consumers feel that there is not good value when it comes to having a night out a Christmas, up from 51% in 2013. 20% felt that there was good value in restaurants, hotels and pubs. 25% feel that there is good value when going on a night out but the costs of getting a baby sitter and transport costs make it very expensive.
67% plan to / are shopping online for Christmas presents this year, compared to 65% in 2013. Females (68%) and young adults (74%) are most likely to shop online in 2014. Better value continues to be the primary reason for shopping online (58%), followed by convenience (51%). Amazon is still the most popular online shopping destination for shopping in 2014.
81% of shoppers tend to spend time browsing online first and then go into an actual shop to make a purchase. 79% of all shoppers feel secure when paying for goods and services online, up from 72% in 2013. 15% sometimes get worried that their details will get stolen while 6% don’t feel secure at all.
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. Setting a Christmas spending budget is more important now than ever, as is writing a list. This will allow people to keep a tight rein on the Christmas shopping costs. It is worrying to see that some people are considering using a moneylender this year. We would echo warnings from the Central Bank last week about avoiding high interest rate moneylenders. If you feel that you need to borrow, speak to your local credit union first. Using a moneylender can result in consumers getting trapped in a cycle of debt which can be hugely difficult to break free of. To all of our credit union members in Ireland, we wish you a happy holiday season and all the very best for the New Year.”