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Cost of Christmas on the rise

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@chronicle-tribune.com

Americans are predicted to charge up to $1,000 to their credit cards this Christmas, a debt experts say shoppers will carry well beyond February.

Before Black Friday sales, WalletHub released their annual consumer shopping survey, a nationally recognized study on holiday shopping trends.

According to the report, 35 percent of Americans will spend $500 or more on gifts this year, and 15 percent spend over $1000.

According to MagnifyMoney post-holiday debt survey, last year individuals had an average of $1,054 in credit card debt after the holidays, and less than half said they pay off their cards in three months or less.

Ball State University Economics Professor Mike Hicks said 25 percent of retail sales happen between Black Friday and Christmas. He said that not only includes spending at shopping centers but at restaurants as well.

“During the holiday season, people tend to spend money on services at restaurants as well as retail stores,” he said. “I don’t think there’s evidence that people are doing this more often than they used to, but I do think there’s evidence out there that this is just what we normally do.”

From 2016 to 2017, the average holiday debt taken on per person has increased 6 percent. However, Hicks said he couldn’t offer an explanation as to why that was. He said consumer trends, like the amount of money spend on Christmas, are better gauged over long periods of time. The same goes for popular industries in gift-buying.

“This year, I think a lot of people can expect to see certificates for services, things like massages and days at the spa, more often than they will a kitchen appliance gifted on Christmas Day,” he said.

As for the debt, Money Management International, a nationwide non-profit that offers debt counseling services, recomments consumers to make monthly payments on their credit card bills and put more than the minimum amount towards the debt when possible.

Representatives from Money Management also suggested that a tax refund should also be used to pay down debts leftover from the holidays.