12:04 PM

TransUnion: Personal Debt Levels Continue to Soar to Record High Levels

TORONTO--(Marketwire - Feb 5, 2013) - TransUnion's quarterly analysis of Canadian credit trends found that the average consumer's total debt (excluding mortgage) increased nearly 6% from $25,960 at the end of 2011 to $27,485 in Q4 2012. The year-over-year increase was the largest of its kind for a fourth quarter since 2009. On a quarterly basis, national debt levels rose 2.7%, the largest such increase between the third and fourth quarters since 2008.

"Increases in personal debt are not surprising during the final quarter of the year as consumers tend to spend more during the holiday season," said Thomas Higgins, TransUnion's vice president of analytics and decision services. "The rise on a year-over-year basis should be more concerning as Canadians' debt loads increased by more than $1,500."

The previous changes in consumer total debt for Canada during the fourth quarter were as follows on both a quarterly and yearly basis:

Date   Year over Year Change   Quarter over Quarter Change
Q4 2012   5.9%   2.7%
Q4 2011   1.0%   1.4%
Q4 2010   5.6%   2.2%
Q4 2009   8.9%   0.8%
Q4 2008   13.8%   3.4%
Q4 2007   4.3%   0.9%

The increase in average debt was consistent throughout Canada, with all provinces experiencing increases except for British Columbia, which showed a marginal decline of 0.09%. On a year-over-year basis, the largest increases were found in Alberta (11.20%), Quebec (9.39%), and Prince Edward Island (9.04%).

"Balance changes were as expected, though British Columbia's drop was the most eye-opening observation from the data," Higgins said. "It should be noted, though, that British Columbia has among the highest debt levels in the nation."

Avg Consumer Debt   Q4 2011   Q1 2012   Q2 2012   Q3 2012   Q4 2012   Q/Q Chg   Y/Y Chg
Canada   $25,961   $25,961   $26,221   $26,768   $27,485   2.7%   5.9%
British Columbia   $37,276   $37,433   $37,879   $38,837   $37,244   -4.1%   -0.1%
Alberta   $33,613   $33,515   $33,564   $33,688   $37,377   11.0%   11.2%
Ontario   $25,135   $25,235   $25,447   $25,937   $26,901   3.7%   7.0%
Quebec   $18,376   $18,475   $18,580   $19,174   $20,102   4.8%   9.4%

Consumer Debt - Quarterly/Yearly

Total consumer debt increases were seen across all product categories.

  • Canadian average credit card borrower debt (defined as the aggregate balance on all credit cards for an individual bankcard borrower) inched up 0.12% year over year for the first time in over two years, buoyed by a strong seasonal increase of 1.79% on a quarter-over-quarter basis.

  • Canadian lines of credit (LOC) borrower debt (defined as the aggregate balance on all LOC for an individual LOC borrower) increased 2.64% year over year after two quarters of decline, with an above average increase of 3.52% quarter over quarter.

  • Canadian installment loan borrower debt (defined as the aggregate balance on all installment loans for an individual installment loan borrower) increased 6.71% year over year, its largest in two years, and 1.64% quarter over quarter.

  • Canadian auto borrower debt (defined as the aggregate balance on all auto captive loans for an individual auto captive borrower) increased 8.93% year over year, the first single digit increase in a year and only 0.61% quarter over quarter.

    Q2 2011   Q3 2011   Q4 2011   Q1 2012   Q2 2012   Q3 2012   Q4 2012
Credit Cards   $3,590   $3,611   $3,633   $3,462   $3,556   $3,573   $3,637
Lines of Credit   $33,855   $34,122   $34,340   $34,107   $33,721   $34,050   $35,247
Installment Loans   $22,281   $22,340   $21,764   $21,974   $22,493   $22,849   $23,224
Auto Captives   $16,671   $17,283   $17,759   $18,212   $18,881   $19,228   $19,345

Consumer Delinquencies - Quarterly/Yearly

Delinquency levels continue to remain low across all major product categories.

"While Canadian debt levels continue their upward track, delinquency levels remain low, and in some cases, are drifting even lower," said Higgins. "It's an especially positive sign to see lines of credit, which make up the majority of personal debt when excluding mortgages, experience yearly declines in delinquencies."

    Q4 2011   Q1 2012   Q2 2012   Q3 2012   Q4 2012   Q/Q Chg   Y/Y Chg
Credit Cards   0.31%   0.32%   0.29%   0.30%   0.30%   1.04%   -6.03%
Lines of Credit   0.21%   0.20%   0.19%   0.19%   0.18%   -1.84%   -8.92%
Installment Loans   1.27%   1.24%   1.24%   1.22%   1.18%   -3.38%   -10.35%
Auto Captives   0.10%   0.09%   0.08%   0.10%   0.10%   5.30%   -9.94%

Three Highest Delinquency Provinces

Credit Cards   Lines of Credit   Installment Loans   Auto Captives
PEI 0.52%   BC 0.27%   ON 1.91%   MB 0.25%
NB 0.48%   ON 0.21%   NS 1.56%   NB 0.20%
NS 0.46%   PEI 0.19%   PEI 1.54%   NS 0.16%

Three Lowest Delinquency Provinces

Credit Cards   Lines of Credit   Installment Loans   Auto Captives
QC 0.22%   QC 0.10%   QC 0.43%   QC 0.06%
SK 0.26%   NL 0.12%   NL 0.96%   NL 0.07%
AB 0.29%   SK 0.15%   SK 1.01%   BC 0.07%

TransUnion's Market Trends
TransUnion's Market Trends is an in-depth, full sample solution that provides statistical information every quarter from TransUnion's national consumer credit database, culled from anonymous credit files. Each Canadian consumer record contains hundreds of credit variables that illustrate consumer credit usage and performance. By leveraging Market Trends, customers from a variety of industries can analyze industry trends over an entire business cycle, helping to understand consumer behaviour in different geographic locations throughout Canada. 

About TransUnion

As a global leader in information and risk management, TransUnion creates advantages for millions of people around the world by gathering, analyzing and delivering information. For businesses, TransUnion helps improve efficiency, manage risk, reduce costs and increase revenue by delivering high quality data, and integrating advanced analytics and enhanced decision-making capabilities. For consumers, TransUnion provides the tools, resources and education to help manage their credit health and achieve their financial goals. Through these and other efforts, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies worldwide. Based in Burlington, Ontario, with global headquarters located in Chicago, Illinois, TransUnion provides local service and support throughout Canada. Visit www.transunion.ca to learn more.