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Consumer Protection BC poll reveals 1 in 4 consumers will use credit to buy holiday gifts this year

VICTORIA, Dec. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - While a new poll from Consumer Protection BC shows that 95 per cent of consumers are purchasing gifts this holiday season, 64 per cent say they're planning on spending less than in 2011.

As part of "Be Money Smart This Holiday Season," a wintertime campaign focused on financial literacy, Consumer Protection BC polled some 1,150 consumers over a six-day period in late November about their holiday spending habits.

Of the consumers who plan on purchasing holiday gifts this year, 24 per cent revealed they don't have any immediate savings available. As such, 16 per cent plan to use credit cards and pay the total off over time; 5 per cent plan on using a bank overdraft; 2 per cent plan on taking out a payday loan; and 1 per cent plan on taking out a loan from a bank (or similar institution).

"This year, one in four gift-givers are going to purchase presents by credit or loan - that's eye opening," says Tatiana Chabeaux-Smith, manager of corporate communications at Consumer Protection BC. "With BC having the highest consumer debt of any province or territory in Canada, at about $38,000 per household, now's the time for all of us to start having important conversations about our personal spending habits."

As part of the campaign, consumers are being asked to post a holiday money-savings tip on the Consumer Protection BC Facebook page. More than 1,500 tips have been shared so far, including:

  • "I plan in advance what I'm going to buy people, to prevent impulse buying and having my holiday bills far exceed what I'd planned." - Marne R.
  • "Make a gift for loved ones. A good gift doesn't have to come with a store gift receipt." - Patricia S.
  • "Don't buy what you can't pay for in January." - Douglas R.
  • "Get together with a friend or two and buy your baking supplies bulk or larger sizes and split it up. Have cookie swaps for a larger variety of treats" - Silvia D.

This holiday season, Consumer Protection BC offers the following three tips to consumers:

  1. Set a budget. To avoid overspending on gifts, make a budget and make a list of what you're planning to buy before you head out shopping.
  2. Know the rules around gift cards. 67 per cent of the poll respondents say they will be buying gift cards for loved-ones. Some gift cards, such as mall cards, can still have fees, while others, such as those bought for a specific service can have expiry dates. Check our website to find out more about gift cards at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.
  3. Ask about returns and refunds. In BC, stores can set their own policies.  Make an informed decision by finding out their return and refund policy before making your purchase.

To contribute to or to read all of the consumer tips as part of the "Be Money Smart This Holiday Season" campaign (on until Dec. 31, 2012) visit the Consumer Protection BC Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ConsumerProtectionBC.

About Consumer Protection BC:
Consumer Protection BC is a not-for-profit corporation that was created to strengthen consumer protection in BC and enforce consumer protection laws. We balance the interests of all parties to promote a marketplace that is fair for both BC consumers and BC businesses. We license and inspect specific industries, respond to inquiries through our Inquiry Centre, investigate alleged violations of consumer protection laws, and educate consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities under the law.  For more information about our organization, please visit our corporate website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca. You can also follow Consumer Protection BC on Twitter @ConsumerProBC, like us on Facebook and read our blog for valuable consumer tips and resources.

SOURCE Consumer Protection BC

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