Christmas has mirrored the trend in new car sales - in that much of it will be paid for in 2013.
New stats from consumer group Which? show that nearly half of all Brits paid for Christmas on credit.
The motoring press recently reported that credit was the main driver of all new car sales.
The latest Which? research shows that 46 per cent of Brits polled used their credit cards, overdrafts, store cards or payday loans to cover Christmas spending - with more than a third (36 per cent) dipping into their savings.
Almost one in four of us said that spending on their credit cards and overdrafts was the only way they could afford to cover Christmas costs.
Those who raided their nest eggs typically withdrew £380 and those who used credit to cover festive season spending typically borrowed £301.
Twelve per cent of Brits used authorised overdrafts, eight per cent spent on their store cards and five per cent borrowed money from family or friends.
Forty per cent of the people questioned said they had substantially reduced their Christmas spending this year and nearly half questioned said they did not eat as much over the holiday period because of increasing food prices.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: "This news that millions of people have drastically cut back on Christmas spending or taken out loans to cover Christmas costs shows just how squeezed household budgets are."
New figures from the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) recently found that 70 per cent of all new car sales are being conducted through consumer car finance - more than ever before.
This figure is expected to rise, approaching 75 per cent in the new year, say industry experts.
The new FLA data found that the number of new cars on finance are up a whopping 40 per cent on last year.
The number of used car loans are up 15 per cent too.
Details about Christmas car sales are still being collated. But The Guardian newspaper reported that sales of electric cars in Britain are expected to double from 3,000 to 6,000 in the new year.
This is put down to the number of charging points increasing and cheaper models entering the market.
The cheapest model, for example, the new Renault Zoe will retail at £13,650 but owners will have to rent a battery from Renault at £70 a month.
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