Around four million British women are ‘shopaholics’ and account for £13 billion in unsecured debt, according to a new survey.
High street sales may have been improving since the end of the recession but this recovery is in no small part due to the spending of those who can not afford it.
The research carried out by uSwitch.com concludes British shopaholics have an average personal debt of £3,353 and 41 per cent of them will ignore their overdraft limit in order to purchase that must-have item.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy for uSwitch.com, commented: “In today’s celebrity obsessed society, any lessons learnt from the recession have been airbrushed out of the picture.
“Despite the financial constraints, women have carried on copying the lifestyles and shopping habits of their idols and ignoring the debt they are racking up in the process.”
A shopaholic is defined in the study as someone who has 50 per cent or more as a proportion of their unsecured debt attributable to fashion purchases.
Female shopaholics spend, on average, 51 per cent of their disposable income on clothes, accessories and grooming.
Male shopaholics are not far behind and now make up 14 per cent of the overall UK male population, spending around £338 a year on grooming product (female shopaholics spend just £191).
All this spending is done primarily on debt which on average takes female shopaholics seven months to clear and consumes 19 per cent of their income.
Robinson continued: “It’s time for everyone to pay serious attention to their spending habits. Short-term debt solutions may seem an efficient way to fund spending, but they can also lead to long-term debt if not managed properly.
“Consumers need to stay in control of their finances - it’s easy in the face of feeling impoverished to let go of the spending reins altogether.”
With the UK recovery still fragile however, retailers are unlikely to start discouraging their customers from charging that card.