British shoppers splurged almost £8.5bn on credit cards over the festive season as the UK’s consumer debt pile continued to mount.

Brits borrowed an average of £452 to cover the cost of gifts and entertaining this Christmas – with many concerned that the debt still won’t be paid off by time next December rolls around.

According to research by price comparison service uSwitch, half of the 4,000 shoppers surveyed said they were worried they would still be trying to clear the debt in December 2018.

Almost one in 10 people said they were still paying off credit card bills dating back to Christmas 2016.

The figures will only serve to heighten fears among retailers that consumers could tighten their purse strings in the New Year, as price inflation outstrips wage growth in real terms.

The uSwitch figures revealed that nearly a fifth of consumers exceeded their festive budgets this year as living costs continued to rise in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Last month, for example, a survey by Good Housekeeping magazine found that the cheapest supermarket-bought Christmas dinner would cost 18% more than a year ago, as additional sourcing costs following the slump in the value of the pound were passed on to customers.

uSwitch money expert Tashema Jackson said: “January should be a time for looking ahead but up and down the country millions of Brits will be looking over their shoulder at the cost of their festive spending.”