Wednesday, March 20, 2024

"With food inflation still hot, consumers turn to buy now, pay later to buy groceries and takeout"

From Yahoo Finance, March 17:

Consumers at all income levels are using BNPL loans to afford basics.

Money is tight, food prices are soaring, and that’s turning more and more Americans to buy now, pay later options to stay afloat.

Last year, some 15 million consumers — or 6.5% of the US population — reported using BNPL installment loans to pay for groceries or manage their weekly food expenses, according to research from PYMNTS Intelligence. Out of that share, about 5.4% of the households using BNPL to afford groceries were low-income.

Meaning there was still a slim share of higher-earners, those making over $100,000 annually, using the popular "pay-in-four" installment loans to purchase food each month.

According to experts, the trend may bleed into this year as consumers across all income groups continue to grapple with climbing prices.

“As the cost of living rises, people find it harder to manage their budgets and cover their expenses,” attorney and personal finance expert Erika Kullberg told Yahoo Finance. “Therefore, BNPL offers a short-term answer by allowing shoppers to spread out payments over time.”

Why pay upfront when BNPL is available even for takeout food?

Americans found some relief at the grocery aisle this month, as food prices remained flat for most items, according to the latest inflation reading.

Still, while food prices moderated in February, they remain 22.3% higher than 2020 levels. The uptick in costs has caused households across every income level to make sacrifices....