Fears over the debt levels of store-card users

It is thought that a quarter of people who have store cards or have accounts with catalogue companies are in arrears.

Men are apparently twice as likely as women to fall behind with their payments, and a third of consumers in the 25-34 age bracket have missed their due dates.

Store cards and home-shopping accounts are often more accessible to people with less-than-perfect credit scores than some other products are, because the companies offering them are keen to sign them up as regular retail customers.

But these figures provide worrying evidence that debt is still a major problem for many people.

“Shopping using store cards can seem like a convenient way to pay, and they often give customers an immediate discount in store,” said Ian Williams, of Debt Advisory Centre, which published the research.

“Similarly, catalogues allow people to buy clothes and other items with an extended repayment period. Both of these forms of credit appeal to young people, and especially young women.

“However, the level of arrears amongst young people in particular is shockingly high. Not only may this lead to them being hit with additional charges and borrowing costs, but their credit rating may also suffer. This could impact on their ability to get a mortgage, loan or other form of credit in the future.”