New research released today (5 February 2014) shows two thirds of consumers (64%) ran out of disposable cash in January, after failing to budget for the Christmas and New Year festivities.
The average shopper over spent by £305.30 at Christmas, and seven in 10 people (70%) found the first month of the year a real struggle to get through financially, as they waited for their first 2014 wage packet to pay off credit cards, overdrafts and other festive bills.
The findings from The Co-operative Food coincide with the in-store launch of the retailer’s 2014 Saving Stamps scheme, designed to help people to manage their budgets by saving a little each week throughout the year to help spread the cost of Christmas.
The convenience retailer saw sales of the £1 savings stamps soar by 40% in 2013, as savvy shoppers reverted to the old-school way of saving. Commonplace in households in the sixties when budgets were notoriously tight, saving stamps were a popular way to put a little away each week.
As an extra incentive, customers redeeming a full saving stamps book with £48 worth of stamps in December receive £50, which means they receive a free £2 bonus for each full saving book redeemed in the run up to Christmas.
The Co-operative is the only retailer to provide extra security for its customers’ saving stamps, by protecting the money in a trust fund, which is managed by an independent trustee.
The Co-operative’s trust fund was set up in response to the collapse of the Farepak Christmas Club in 2006, when nearly 120,000 people, many from low-income households, lost on average £400 each. When establishing the trust, The Co-operative worked closely with representatives of the Farepak Victims Committee,
Andrew Mann, customer director, The Co-operative Food, said: “As our research shows, many people were left with a financial hangover after over spending at Christmas and are still paying for the festivities.
“As a responsible retailer, we are keen to help our customers manage their budgets, and our saving stamps scheme is a simple and effective way to help put money aside throughout the year to help spread the cost of Christmas.
“Sales of saving stamps rose by 40% in 2013, and we are expecting our saving scheme to be just as popular this year, as customers adopt a prudent approach to managing their money and start saving now January is out of the way.”