Britons are increasingly more likely to pay off their debts than save, it is claimed.
New research from unbiased.co.uk shows that at the beginning of last year, the public was borrowing 66 pence for every pound it saved, with savings levels rising to a record high in the second quarter of 2008.
However, during the last quarter of 2008, Britons were repaying £1.76 for every pound they saved, with levels of saving almost halving to £19 billion.
"This shift itself is no surprise but its severity confirms the historic impact of the credit crunch on consumer behaviour and evidence suggests this repayment trend is continuing at pace," says David Elms, chief executive of unbiased.co.uk.
He adds that there is a lot of "consumer fear" at present, with people perhaps needing to seek the expertise of a debt management firm to help with their finances.
Research from Abbey recently found that more than two-thirds of Britons (69 per cent) have at least one credit card, with the average credit card debt standing at £3,256.