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: ‘Buy now, pay later’ orders jumped 68% during the week of Black Friday

Online purchases using the type of financing known as buy now, pay later jumped 68% during the week of Black Friday (Nov. 21 to Nov. 27) compared to the previous week, according to the latest Adobe Analytics report, published Monday morning.

Revenue from buy now, pay later — also known as BNPL — rose 72% week over week.

“In an uncertain economic environment, a more cautious consumer is embracing more flexible ways to manage their budget,” the software and market-research company said in a separate report Friday. 

BNPL online orders increased 13% year over year in November, according to Adobe Analytics
ADBE,
-1.59%
.
 That figure did not take into account Thanksgiving or Black Friday spending.

Buy now, pay later, a new spin on the concept of layaway, has become increasingly popular among younger consumers. It allows consumers to split the cost of purchases into installments and charges them either simple interest or no interest at all, in a break from the traditional credit model in which interest compounds. 

This form of online purchasing has proved popular in Europe and has recently gained traction in the U.S. for everything from Peloton
PTON,
+0.80%

equipment to household appliances.

“Buy now, pay later allows consumers to split the cost of purchases into installments and charges them either simple interest or no interest at all, in a break from the traditional credit model in which interest compounds. ”

Unlike traditional layaway, however, consumers receive their goods immediately with BNPL and then pay them off, rather than receiving their purchases only after paying in full.

Furniture companies have long allowed people to take big-ticket items home right away and then pay them off in installments. Now the concept has made its way online, spreading across industries and to items with smaller purchase amounts.

An increasing number of younger people and people living paycheck to paycheck are relying on buy now, pay later and other alternative forms of payment, experts say.

About half of millennials and members of Generation Z say they are highly likely to finance at least one of their holiday purchases using options like credit cards, BNPL or personal loans, according to the holiday season report from LendingClub, a financial-services company based in San Francisco. 

Shoppers are also using buy now, pay later to finance even lower-priced gifts, according to Salesforce: The average order value of BNPL purchases over the Thanksgiving weekend fell by 9% year over year.

Listen to the podcast: Best New Ideas in Money: Buy now, pay forever

“One of the worst things consumers can do is finance gifts on a credit card that they don’t intend to pay off at the end of the month, especially in a rising-interest-rate environment,” said Anuj Nayar, financial health officer at LendingClub.

“Now more than ever, it’s important to live within your means,” he said.  

Online sales for Black Friday up 2.3% year over year

Buy now, pay later services, in particular, are seeing surging adoption rates, driven by growing merchant acceptance, booming e-commerce sales and what many providers say is a skepticism among younger shoppers about traditional credit offerings. 

In the credit-card model, merchants pay transaction fees when they accept card payments, and consumers pay accrued interest if they carry a balance.

Buy now, pay later services, which can sometimes be interest-free to the consumer, charge a steeper fee to merchants, which have been increasingly willing to pay for the services to encourage consumers to go through with an online purchase.

Some 37% of Americans plan to use financing such as personal loans, credit cards and buy now, pay later this holiday season, up from 34% in 2021, according to the LendingClub report.

“Experts caution that discounts should not tempt people to overspend over the holiday season.”

From 2019 to 2021, the dollar volume of buy now, pay later loans issued by five companies — Affirm Holdings Inc.
AFRM,
-3.82%
,
Afterpay Ltd., Klarna, PayPal Holdings Inc.
PYPL,
-0.19%

 and Zip Co.
ZIP,
-0.17%

— increased by 1,092%, from $2 billion to $24.2 billion, according to a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“Buy now, pay later is a rapidly growing type of loan that serves as a close substitute for credit cards,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra told reporters at a virtual news conference in September. 

“We will be working to ensure that borrowers have similar protections, regardless of whether they use a credit card or a buy now, pay later loan,” he added. 

Online sales for Black Friday reached a record $9.12 billion, a 2.3% increase year over year, according to Adobe. However, Cyber Monday is projected to be this year’s “biggest online shopping day,” the company said, with online sales reaching $11.2 billion to $11.6 billion.

Erik Carter, a senior financial planner at Financial Finesse, a workplace financial coaching provider in El Segundo, Calif., advised consumers ahead of Black Friday not to allow discounts over the holiday season to tempt them to overspend.

Instead, he said, people should use Black Friday as an opportunity to invest in things that were already on their shopping lists. 

(Emily Bary contributed to this report.)

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