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News Now

CU System
Online-shopping hike means CUs may see more member debt
MADISON, Wis. (12/4/08)--While holiday shopping from Black Friday are indicating consumers are pulling back their spending for the holidays, Cyber Monday saw the second heaviest shopping day on record. That means shoppers are using debit and credit cards to pay for those online purchases. And because online sites usually don't take checks or cash, the purchases--and their shipping fees--are added to consumers' credit and debit card debt. Even with the economy, credit unions can expect members to have increased debt for these purchases. Online shoppers spent $846 million on Monday--a 15% increase over the Monday after Thanksgiving last year, according to comScore Inc., a research firm. Only the $881 million spent on Dec. 10, 2007, tops that Web sales figure (ComputerWorld Dec. 3). The sales were made even though websites of several national retailers failed during the four day-weekend. So far for this year's holiday season, which began Nov. 1, the $12 billion in 2008 online purchases is 2% less than last year, said comScore. The firm had predicted this year's holiday sales would be flat, compared with last year's. The state of the economy is influencing consumer shopping habits, according to a recent PriceGrabber.com survey (LoneStar Leaguer Dec. 3). About 61% of consumers surveyed between Oct. 24 and Nov. 10, expected to cut back this holiday season, but 97% expected to purchase something online this year, and 55% intended to purchase more than half of their holiday gifts online--a 10% increase from last year. Purchasing online is a cost-cutting strategy, said PriceGrabber.com. In addition to planning to stick to a budget to control impulse buying (53%); shop at discount or outlet malls (43%); and purchase only sale items (35%), roughly 37% said they would use comparison shopping websites. Cardtrack.com predicted credit card spending would increase 3% during this year's holiday season, compared with a 10% increase for the period in 2007. It noted that the holiday shopping season is shorter this year, consumers are spending less, and credit card issuers are less likely to extend more credit, which means for slower card spending. Some shoppers shifting to a cash lifestyle to gain financial control will find that several websites will offer a cash payment alternative through eBillme, a payment option that leverages online banking for eCommerce checkout. eBillme allows shoppers to choose the option at checkout. Their order is confirmed with an eBill sent to their e-mail address. Consumers pay the eBill through their online checking or savings account. The transaction clears with no personal or financial information required. Either way, consumers are still adding to their debt.
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