BNPL Explosion Raises the Alarm - InvestingChannel

BNPL Explosion Raises the Alarm

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BNPL Explosion Raises the Alarm

It beats paying with a bag of pennies… 

Or maybe not. 

At least you get some exercise lugging a knapsack full of zinc and copper to the grocery store. Then, after your haul, you walk away debt-free. 

The rise in people using buy now, pay later (BNPL) programs to pay for groceries is startling, not to mention worrisome. 

The Juice has been following this since last year, when BNPL providers reported increases in BNPL covering everyday expenses, such as groceries. 

Now, data from Adobe Analytics ups the decibel of the alarm. 

But first, BNPL providers might be digging their own graves. Many, such as Zip, actively promote using their services to pay for groceries. 


Source: Zip 

Then there’s one of the biggest players in the space: Affirm Holdings (AFRM)

On the company’s most recent conference call, executives borderline bragged about what “good shape” they are in on delinquencies. Shortly after, Affirm’s CEO went on what The Juice considers a rose-colored, if not clueless, rant: 

Consumers are pulling back their spend. Every time I talk to my friends, CEOs of broadline retailers, they tell me that discretionary spend is down. There’s quite a lot of movement into things like consumables.

And obviously, food prices being higher […] does not help either. 

[w]e’ll start finding out just how much of that food and consumable spend we’re going to be able to shift to Affirm… 

You can see that the frequency per user is rising. The network activity is extremely healthy. I think probably the set of metrics that I would direct all of you to look at if you wanted the — how does Affirm [win] story spelled out very clearly, there’s almost a 40% growth in active consumers year over year, almost 40% growth in transactions, three and a half transactions per year per active user, 51% growth in transactions themselves and 86% up slightly from last one is the repeat transactions. 

[…] Like if we are able to pick up more and more of your transactions, we will ultimately have a really good shot at also helping you buy groceries. [Emphasis added.]

Are we crazy, or did Affirm not just describe a business about to implode on the backs of economically stressed shoppers? 

The aforementioned Adobe data adds fuel to our fire of concern: 

  • While the use of BNPL continues to rise, overall BNPL revenue is down. 
  • Adobe says it’s because consumers are using BNPL to make smaller purchases. 
  • This January and February, the share of grocery orders via BNPL increased a whopping 40%.  

The Bottom Line: The Juice doesn’t like this one bit. The writing is on the wall. Affirm, other BNPL providers, and the consumers they – for all intents and purposes – encourage and enable are in for a world of financial hurt.

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