Christmas shoppers incur debt, but job security dwindling

New data reveals resilient spending despite downbeat economy.

A survey today indicated that household debt has skyrocketed at the fastest pace since the recession -- despite a steep fall in job security since April and the fastest drop in income in two-and-a-half years.

The household finance index released by Markin, a global financial information services company, particularly emphasized a dive in job security in London and Yorkshire & Humber, as well as a steep drop within the public sector. The data additionally indicated a sharp rate of decline in cash available to spend as that seen in the previous month, with the lowest income group seeing by far the steepest deterioration.

In spite of these gloomy financial figures, the new data nevertheless pointed to relatively resilient household spending in December, with 38 per cent of respondents noting an increase in spending this month. Tim Moore, Senior Economist at Markit, commented that "households are opting to dip into savings or take on more debt in the run-up to Christmas".

Department stores John Lewis and Selfridges both appeared to be reaping the benefits of Britons' Christmas shopping frenzy: figures from the Office for National Statistics last week reported that both stores had experienced significant rises in sales in the week to Saturday compared to the same week last year. Selfridges also reported a particularly strong trading weekend for VAT-free purchases bought by international visitors, which rose by more than 30 per cent.