Apacs, the UK payments association, today issued December 2006 spending figures, which show that spending on plastic over the Christmas period reached a record £31 billion.
There were 669 million plastic card transactions in December 2006, six per cent more than during December 2005, equating to a record 250 transactions per second - day and night - through the month. Spending on plastic cards accounted for 63 per cent of total retail sales.
Spending on debit cards again rose significantly and accounted for the majority (63%) of spending on plastic cards. UK consumers spent a total of £19.6 billion on debit cards in December 2006 - an increase of 15.3 per cent (from £17 billion) on December 2005. The volume of debit card transactions also increased from 426 million transactions in December 2005 to 472 million in December 2006.
Despite the increase in overall spending on plastic cards, credit card spending has decreased slightly. Credit card spending for December 2006 came to £11.4 billion compared to £11.5 billion for the same period in 2005. There was a decrease of 4 per cent in the volume of credit card transactions, down from 205 million transactions for December 2005 to 197 million transactions in 2006.
Sandra Quinn, director of communications at APACS, said: "We spent record amounts this Christmas and record amounts on our cards. The trend that we have seen over recent years of cards replacing cash and cheques on the high street continued this Christmas. Spending on debit cards in particular has dramatically increased and now stands at almost double the level of spending on credit cards.
"Our figures show that cardholders are becoming more responsible in the way that they borrow and are clearly focusing on repayments, with the majority of spending being done by debit rather than credit cards."