Not so merry Christmas ahead

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 13:18 03/10/2012
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What sort of spending do you plan for this Christmas?

All the trimmings

Same as last year

I'm cutting back

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Bad news, kids - the Christmas stockings won't be looking so plump this year.

More than two thirds of Kiwis are less likely to splash out on non-essentials over the Christmas period, compared to the same time last year.

The findings come from a survey by credit reporting agency Dun & Bradstreet, which measures expectations for saving, spending and credit use during the December quarter.

The survey of 930 adults found 54 per cent of New Zealanders are worried about their current financial situation, up 5 per cent from the previous quarter.

Sixty-three per cent of people intend to avoid making major purchases in the festive season, while 18 per cent plan to delay a purchase they previously planned to make.

That will ease the annual explosion in credit card lending, with 62 per cent less likely to borrow to buy the things they want compared to last year.

More than half of New Zealanders don't intend to bump up their credit limit, and the number of people planning to apply for new credit cards has also fallen.

Dun & Bradstreet's New Zealand general manager John Scott said the data indicates consumers will be spending conservatively at a time when most retailers are hoping to hear tills ringing merrily.

The rising cost of living and post-financial crisis caution had encouraged many New Zealanders to save or repay debt rather than spend, he said.

"As a result, most consumers are adopting a prudent approach this Christmas."

Dun & Bradstreet's data also shows that nearly one in every four Kiwis would be unable to survive more than a month on their savings if they lost their job tomorrow.

Eleven per cent would last for two or three months, and only 4 per cent could stick it out for seven to 12 months.

Despite the increasing credit conservatism, Scott said some people still had difficulty meeting repayments.

"Many New Zealanders struggle with elevated levels of debt and are dependent on each pay cheque to fund day-to-day expenses."

Reserve Bank figures show credit card debt currently stands at just over $5.5 billion, or 1.8 per cent higher than the same time last year.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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