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    A columnist has questioned how cash-strapped shoppers feeling the pinch following their Christmas spending are so willing to rack up further debt in the January sales.

    Writing for the Daily Express, Julia Hartley-Brewer accused Britons of "consumerist gorging", despite 4.4 million people still repaying debts incurred during Christmas 2006.

    She claimed a "credit card debt culture" is spreading through Britain like a sickness.

    "But there is a simple cure and it works every time. Cut up your credit cards and if you don’t earn it, don’t spend it. That’s the best prescription for good financial health for 2008," Ms Hartley-Brewer continued.

    Earlier this month, research by accountancy firm Grant Thornton predicted that overspending at Christmas will be responsible for "at least" a third of all personal insolvencies during the first three months of the year.

    It warned that personal insolvencies during 2007 amounted to 110,000 and 2008 could see record figures of 120,000 facing bankruptcy or other insolvency proceedings.

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