Slowdown in festive borrowing

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The Independent Online

Anxious consumers worried about their levels of borrowing decided against paying for Christmas on credit, according to a report looking into December spending.

The total sum spent on plastic inched up last year to £32.2bn, with £5.4bn spent online. But that rise, of around 4 per cent on 2006, was the smallest in four years, and the fact that there was an increase at all was only down to more of us paying for items on debit cards, according to the payments association Apacs.

Debit card payments grew by 6.8 per cent to £20.9bn – although this was less than half of the increase between 2005 and 2006 (15.3 per cent). Meanwhile, credit card spending at Christmas fell for the second year running, to £11.3bn in December 2007, against £11.4bn for the same period in 2006.

There was also a fall of 2.8 per cent on the previous year in the number of credit card transactions.

A spokeswoman for Apacs said: "Although we spent record amounts again last year, the rapid pace of growth in our festive spending is clearly starting to slow.

"People are thinking more carefully about whether they can afford to borrow."

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