Belfast Telegraph

High street store card borrowing falls 25%

Consumers continued to shun borrowing to fund high street spending during November but there was a big jump in demand for personal loans, figures showed yesterday.

Lending through store cards dived by 25% during the month, compared with November last year, with just £202m advanced, according to the Finance -amp; Leasing Association.

There was also an 11% fall in borrowing through store instalment credit, under which people buy large items such as furniture or household goods through monthly payments.

Credit card lending was flat year-on-year, although at £2.71bn it remained the single largest area of advances.

The latest figures follow sharp declines in these areas in October, when borrowing through store cards was down 33% year-on-year and store instalment credit dropped by 27%.

But borrowing through personal loans soared by 34% in November compared with 12 months ago, with £208m advanced, although the Finance and Leasing Association cautioned that some of the rise was due to a very weak figure for November 2009.

There was also a 3% rise in demand for car finance, but lending through second mortgages, under which people can borrow money secured against their home, fell by 31%.

Overall, total advances by FLA members during the month were unchanged on a year earlier at £4.38bn.

A range of new measures to protect credit and store card customers came into force at the beginning of the year, and further changes are due to come in at the beginning of next month, when the European Union's Consumer Credit Directive is set to become law.

Fiona Hoyle, FLA head of consumer finance, said: "These figures send a clear message to the Government about the challenges to be faced when considering further regulatory changes in the consumer credit sector while ensuring that the UK maintains a competitive market with real consumer choice.

"Against a backdrop of contracting markets, the Government must consider carefully the impact on the markets of any further changes to the credit regime," added Ms Hoyle.