Sales during the weeks leading up to Christmas often make a significant contribution to retailers’ profits. For many consumers, it is a time to spend money on food, presents and decorations and this often means increased borrowing.
Data indicate that borrowing by consumers in the lead-up to Christmas increased by the biggest amount for almost 8 years: a figure of £1.5 billion. As a result, there were likely to have been many happy families at Christmas, with lots of gifts being exchanged. But what does this mean for the New Year? There are concerns about the increase we will see in consumer debt throughout 2016 and the number of borrowers who will, perhaps, be unable to repay their debts.
Could this significant increase in borrowing be a signal that we haven’t learnt from our past? This article from BBC News considers the borrowing data and their implications.
Borrowing jumped ahead of Christmas, Bank of England says BBC News, Brian Milligan (4/01/16)
- Is borrowing good or bad for the economy? Explain your answer.
- If borrowing is good for the economy, why are there concerns about the current level of borrowing?
- How will this higher level of borrowing affect aggregate demand? Use an AD/AS diagram to explain the impact this will have.
- Could this higher level of borrowing affect unemployment and inflation? In what ways?
- If interest rates had been higher, do you think the level of consumer borrowing would have been lower?