tree2Wizzard’s timeless Christmas classic – ‘I Wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day’ – starts with the sound of an old money till being cashed up. How insightful that even back in the dark days of the 1970s when the ‘Old’ Labour guard and the unions were (allegedly) running the country into the ground, some half-baked pop star could see the overwhelming commercialism of the festive season. In fact, I’m guessing that most shops and business owners would absolutely love it to be Christmas every day – kerching…!!!

I guess that for some, they would argue that ‘New’ Labour are doing the same today given the credit crunch, economic crisis and recession all being the fruits of their collective efforts. But I ask: recession? What recession…???

In the drive towards buying and consuming more to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus – that’s what Christmas is about, isn’t it…??? – Britain was today set for its busiest internet shopping day of the year. In all, it is estimated that more than £320m forecast would have been spent online today alone. Over the Christmas period, IMRG – the internet trade body – says that the UK’s total online retail sales could reach £13.6bn generated by around 29 million people.

That’s a lot of money to be generated on the back of a 2.5% cut in the level of VAT…!!!

At the same time, The Guardian is reporting that the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) is receiving more than 9,000 callers a week to its hotline from people worried about the strain of Christmas on family budgets. Similarly, the National Debtline logged more than double its usual number of monthly calls in November – 21,000 instead of around 10,000 – as families grappled with the problem of how to afford the festivities.

Research has shown that the cost of Christmas varies between households, but according to the Children’s Mutual friendly society, each British child is set to receive around of £316 in gifts and cash this year. In addition, Britons will spend approximately £604 on decorations, going out, food, gifts and so on. The Birmingham Midshires who commissioned the research suggests that whilst this is more than £100 less than last year’s average spending, the amounts remain huge for those families who are financially strained but face pressure to buy the latest toys and goods.

The obvious solution for many is to plunge themselves into (further?) debt, taking on expensive overdrafts, credit cards and unsecured personal loans. For many others, their only recourse will be to unscrupulous doorstep lenders, loans secured against their home or – in the worst cases – loan sharks, whose scandalously high interest rates can mean that the amounts being repaid are more than twice the amount borrowed.

Is it worth it? I’m not sure.

‘I wish it could be Christmas every day…’: well I personally don’t, but I’m sure there’s a lot of people making a lot of money who wish it was…kerching !!!

‘The 12 Posts of Xmas’ are a series of posts that will be published between 1 December and 25 December 2008. From tales of woe through humour to mere rants, each post is based around a classic Christmas song and is accompanied by a festive image of times gone by…!!!

Creative Commons License Everything on this site by Chris Allen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. www.chris-allen.co.uk

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