Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping madness: how to avoid a debt hangover

28th November 2014

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Black Friday may have created chaos in shopping centres across the country today as shoppers tried to bag a bargain, but one in four of us will be turning to our laptops on ‘Cyber Monday’ to fill the Christmas stockings.

Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, with retailers adopting the US trend of offering pre-Christmas discounts on top of the traditional Boxing Day sales.

Research from Halifax shows Black Friday last year – the first Friday after Thanksgiving – was the second busiest day for spending in the entire year, with two million more debit card transactions carried out when compared to any other Friday in the year.

The only day to top Black Friday for spending last year was Christmas Eve – it was 2% busier with 9.3 million transactions chalked up.

Cyber Monday – the first Monday in December – is behind Black Friday in the spending stakes racking up 1.5 million transactions but was still 24% busier than the average Monday throughout the year.

Anthony Warrington, director of Halifax current accounts, said: ‘It is often noted that Christmas appears to be starting earlier each year, and the data suggests that this is indeed the case. As UK retailers increasingly adopt the US-style Black Friday promotions and discounts we are starting to see the day after Thanksgiving become a major retail event for us here too.’

While Cyber Monday may not be as popular two-thirds of online shoppers plan to buy at least half of their Christmas gifts online, according to research by Citizens Advice.

Over a quarter said they will do more of their shopping online this festive season than they did last year.

However, Citizens Advice said individuals should plan their finances in order to avoid a debt hangover in the New Year. Last Christmas, 24,000 people got help with debt from Citizens Advice’s online guide between Boxing Day and 2 January – a 41% increase on the year before.

Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice chief executive, said: ‘Planning ahead now will make sure that your Christmas delivers. Late deliveries, faulty presents and unmanageable costs risk putting a dampener on the festive season. Make sure that you know your rights and have your budget in order before you part with your hard-earned cash.

Top tips to avoid the debt hangover from Citizens Advice:

  1. Think about how much you can afford to spend and stick to your budget. With presents, food, travel and parties, Christmas costs can soon mount up.
  2. Always check retailer’s terms and conditions of sale and other important pre-contract information such as returns policies before buying online.
  3. Online retailers must tell you about delivery costs and whether you will have to pay for returning your gift before you place an order – you can argue your case if you have a delivery dispute using the Citizens Advice.
  4. Presents ordered from outside the EU may be liable for customs duty, excise duty, or import VAT.
  5. Save money by sending items second class. If you send 100 cards using letter stamps this will save you £9, and if you use large letter stamps this will save you £20.
  6. Leave yourself enough time to send your cards – last posting dates for second class is Thursday 18 December and first class is Saturday 20 December.
  7. Use a cheque or postal order instead of sending cash and send jewellery, vouchers and other valuables by an insured service so you can claim compensation if it goes missing or is damaged.
  8. Ask for a free ‘certificate of posting’ at the Post Office when you send important items.
  9. If you are considering taking out a loan, shop around and compare the interest and charges before you borrow. Only take out a loan if you know you will be able to afford the repayments and make sure you are clear about the full costs and what will happen if you do not pay it back.
  10. If you buy an item online, over the phone or through a catalogue you can change your mind or send it back if it is faulty. From the day it is delivered you have a 14 day cooling off period to return it.

 

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