As American consumers slowly begin to regain confidence in the state of their finances after struggling through almost three years of recession and high unemployment, they still face the threat of taking on even more credit card debt. This fact was in clear evidence on the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
According to data compiled by First Data’s SprendTrend analysis, use of credit cards on Black Friday jumped 7.3 percent while the value of the goods purchased went up 6.3 percent. Given the degree of consumer caution and a reluctance to stimulate the economy with their retail dollars for most of 2011, this was a good sign for business and a potential danger sign for the spenders themselves.
The holiday season represents a time of tremendous temptation. Not only is there the desire to give gifts to family and friends, but there is a feeling of wanting to let go and set worries aside during a festive season. “Deals” like Black Friday sales or the equally tempting “Cyber Monday,” which paired low prices with free shipping, led recession weary Americans to reach for their wallets this year.
Unfortunately, the bills that come due in January may well cause buyer’s remorse if those purchases were made with no cash on hand to resolve the card charges immediately. The first step in debt resolution is a halt to spending, especially credit card spending, and it remains to be seen whether Black Friday and Cyber Monday were a good, or bad, “success” for shoppers themselves.