retail news in context, analysis with attitude

From CNBC:

"Supply chains are snarled and manufacturing is constrained. For weeks, headlines have been telegraphing a clear message to shoppers: This holiday season shop early.

"In years past, early bird shoppers may have turned to layaway plans to reserve holiday gifts and pay for the purchases over time. But many retailers — including the nation’s largest, Walmart — have done away with or scaled back these programs. One reason is shoppers have new tools at their disposal to spread out payments.

"A popular option for consumers are buy now, pay later plans. Retailers are big fans as well. The point-of-sale loans are easy for retailers to manage, and research shows these options lead to bigger baskets and greater customer loyalty. RBC Capital Markets estimates a BNPL option increases retail conversion rates 20% to 30%, and lifts the average ticket size between 30% and 50%."

The story notes that BNPL is popular with "younger shoppers, like the much-desired Gen Z and millennial consumer" because of "the promise of a handful of equal payments spread over a relatively short period of time, with no hidden fees. Often, the plans are interest-free."  They're also attractive to "consumers that either do not have access to credit, or for a variety of reasons, do not want to purchase with a credit card. The option also makes a lot of sense for shoppers who don’t have the funds to cover the total purchase, but will over the next several paychecks."