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Older UK Millennials (aged 31-40) are Britain’s most indebted generation and, while pre-pandemic they were fairly relaxed about this status, now there’s been a rapid increase in their anxiety about their current debt levels, according to the latest Mintel research.

In June 2019, just over a quarter (27%) of Older Millennials were uncomfortable* with their current level of debt, and in just 12 months, this level increased to more than a third (35%)**. This comes as Mintel research also reveals that as many as two-fifths (39%) of Older Millennials have unsecured debt of more than £2,000 – the highest of any generation – and compares to just 26% of all UK adults.

Apprehension surrounding debt is confirmed by the fact that almost one in five (17%) Millennials (aged 21-40) do not trust themselves with debt, compared to an average of one in ten (11%) of all consumers. Meanwhile, three in ten (30%) Millennials say debt has had a negative effect on their relationships in the past, and four in ten (40%) of them admit that it is embarrassing to talk to friends and family about debt.

The concern is resulting in an increased reluctance to take on further debt, as 14% of all consumers have put off making large purchases on credit as a result of COVID-19, peaking among Britain’s Older Millennials (20%).

Thomas Slide, Senior Research Analyst, said:

“Before COVID-19, older Millennials were, by far, the most heavily indebted age group, having relied on unsecured debt over the past few years. Despite this, they had also been fairly relaxed about the scale of their borrowing. The economic shock caused by lockdown has shaken their confidence. As a result, the pandemic looks set to trigger a sea-change moment in Older Millennials’ attitudes towards debt. Many will look to reduce the amount they owe and are likely to adopt a more cautious approach to borrowing and consumer spending even after the crisis has passed. Not only will this pose a threat to overall consumer spending, but it will also mean lenders will need to reassess one of their main target groups.”

*uncomfortable/very uncomfortable.