Media Release

Festive season in full swing: How the nation will cope with financial pressures

  • Christmas shoppers will be left with $3.9 billion debt after splurging on gifts this year
  • 2 in 5 Australians turning to credit to to fund gift-buying; record credit card spend forecast for December
  • Practical ways to lower your Christmas expenditure

14 December, 2016, Sydney, Australia – As the nation gears up for the biggest consumer rush of the year, Australians have disclosed how they’ll manage their Christmas spending, according to, Australia’s most visited comparison website1.

Forty percent of Australians will use some form of debt to fund their Christmas shopping, the research shows. With the average Aussie spending $539 on gifts alone this Christmas, over $215 per person will be funded by credit, which is around $3.9 billion nationwide.

Ahead of December 25, the survey of 2,027 Australians discovered the majority of Australians (75%) will use some form of cash or savings for Christmas purchases when they hit the shops in the lead up to the big day.

However, more than one in three (36%) will pay with credit card, while 4% of cash-strapped Aussies will use loans to pay for the festive season.

Three percent of respondents are relying on a Christmas bonus from work to cover Christmas costs.

Bessie Hassan, Money Expert at, says shoppers need to make sure they’re capable of repaying their borrowed debt after the festive spending season.

“It’s a time for giving, but don’t get caught up in the theatrics of Christmas and remember to keep an eye on your expenditure so you don’t wind up with debt you can’t afford to service.

“For those planning to use a credit card to cover Christmas expenses, a little bit of homework can make a big difference to how quickly and comfortably you repay the debt. For instance, it could be worth looking into 0% purchase balance transfer options or even rewards credit cards as these can be useful when used responsibly,” she says.

With retailers launching sales ‘early’ this year, the spending season is already in full swing. Australians shoppers are expected spend more than $48.1 billion in retail stores over the Christmas trading period, the Australian Retailers Association projecting spending figures reveal.

Furthermore, a analysis of new Reserve Bank of Australia data forecasts that the national credit card spend this December will top $28 billion for the first time, which is the highest monthly figure on record.

Interestingly, the research also found more than 180,000 savvy Aussies (1% of adults) will use funds earned through the shared economy –including Airtasker or Uber – to pay for their Christmas gift expenses.

“Using the sharing economy is a smart way to earn some extra funds which can go towards your Christmas expenditure. However, just be mindful of the tax implications of earning money this way,” she says.

Men vs Women

  • More women (79%) will use cash/savings to fund their Christmas shopping compared to men (70%).
  • 42% of men will put Christmas purchases on a credit card compared to only 30% of women.
  • Men (6%) are three times as likely as women (2%) to pay for Christmas shopping using a loan.

Generation breakdown

  • Credit cards will be used by 40% of Baby Boomers, compared to 39% of Generation X and 28% of Generation Y.
  • Generation Y are more likely to rely on a loan (8%) to fund Christmas spending than Generation X (3%), and Baby Boomers (1%).

How to lower your Christmas expenditure

  • Check your personal finances. Don’t wait until the new year to conduct a financial audit, but instead review your personal finances now. This may involve evaluating your existing accounts, such as any personal loan or credit card accounts you have, to see how you can best manage your Christmas spending. For example, if you’ve fallen behind on your credit card payments, you may want to think twice before putting more purchases on credit.
  • Review delivery costs. Costs for delivery and shipping are often a hidden expense come Christmas time, so be sure to check delivery details before committing to a purchase online. Consider browsing products from a retailer that offers free shipping and delivery so you can dodge this cost.
  • Check out coupons, deals and competitions. Online coupons, deals, and competitions can be a good way to save a few dollars on purchases. For instance, many retailers offer 5-10% discounts if you use the corresponding shopping coupon code, while Christmas competitions can be a useful way to earn some monetary prizes which may also help improve your financial literacy.
  • Use your bank ATM for withdrawals. Avoiding ATM withdrawal fees doesn’t require much effort so when you’re looking to get cash out, make sure you go to your bank-branded ATM to avoid accumulating unnecessary charges. If you’re heading overseas, keep your eyes peeled for an ATM that’s part of your bank ATM global network alliance.
  • Don’t buy store gift cards on plastic. Some card providers will charge a cash advance fee when you pay for a gift card using your credit card, so if you’re thinking of buying a gift card, consider using cash or putting it on a debit card instead.

1Experian Hitwise since 2015


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