Personal Finance: Loose Change

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Indy Lifestyle Online
YOU ARE about to to do your Christmas shopping. The Independent knows you are.

We know it because behavioural psychologists and market researchers keep writing in to tell us. For months, they have been preparing studies on where we go and who we buy for at Christmas. And their firmest conclusion? Men are not very good at it.

"Men will leave all the Christmas shopping until the very last minute thinking this somehow puts them in control of all the Christmas fuss," says psychologist Donna Dawson. "But this makes them much more likely to spend more on Christmas than they plan and to buy something inappropriate into the bargain."

A Yorkshire Bank survey says 5.5 million people will still be shopping on Christmas Eve - including 4 million men. And 43 per cent of people say they will be overdrawn by the end of the festive season.

But there's good news for pets. Churchill Insurance says more than half get a gift at Christmas, and one in ten owners splash out on presents worth more than pounds 10. No wonder the retail industry expects shoppers to spend pounds 3.3bn more on the high street than last year, making it the busiest Christmas of the Nineties.

But it doesn't bode well for getting a parking space today. See you in the queue.