For millions of Christmas shoppers, hefty debt payments in 1986 are definitely in the cards.
Since the day after Thanksgiving, shoppers have been racking up $400 million a day in purchases on their Visa cards, the bank card company reported Tuesday. Visa said its 130 million card holders will make at least 120 million transactions between Thanksgiving and Christmas worth a total of $6.7 billion. That's 50% higher than during last year's holiday season.
Sandra Shaber, an economist with Chase Econometrics in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., said the temptation to "use plastic" is too great, even though customers are already burdened by record high debt. In October, the most recent month for which figures are available, consumer credit reached a high of 19.4% of disposable income.
Even so, she said, this "won't be a glorious Christmas. . . . I think it's fair to say that consumer spending has slowed notably in the current quarter."