With Black Friday in the rear-view mirror, consumers across Scotland are already gearing up to queue and click for those perfect festive gifts, good times, and getaways as the clock ticks down to Christmas Day.
UK shopping data from 2022 showed around an 80% increase in Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) purchases on Black Friday and ‘cyber’ deals, with credit companies like Klarna, PayPal and Clearpay helping shoppers spread the cost across a raft of the top online retailers.
And although there was a slight decrease in overall spending for November 2023 sales, mainly due to cost-of-living challenges, BNPL continues to grow in popularity and may seem like a pocket friendly option as Christmas rushes upon us.
So, what’s the problem?
Iain Campbell, Project Lead for moneyadvice.scot said, “Buy now pay later is a convenient way to borrow money over a short period, if, you are keeping track on the spend. But as we enter the holiday season, with nights out and family get-togethers, keeping track of what is in our bank account can prove tricky.”
“BNPL options are hugely popular with online retailers because they make it less likely you will abandon the digital shopping basket” advises Iain, “In principle, splitting the cost of a few significant items over three or four smaller payments can make sense when there is a date in view, such as Christmas or a birthday. But when multiple items are purchased by BNPL, you can quickly lose track of what payments are due when.”
Being paid fortnightly or weekly also adds further complexity, leaving you financially short for buying essentials if multiple BNPL payments fall due in a narrow window.
The Advice Direct Scotland Money and Debt team simply recommends cancelling the purchase if you cannot afford to buy it, but if you do go ahead with BNPL schemes, make sure you keep track of the amounts and payment dates, so you do not miss any payments or fall foul of any added interest.
In the worst-case scenario where you are overwhelmed and struggling to make payments on time, always contact the retailer to discuss your payment options.
Our Money and Debt team are here to offer advice to help you solve any issue. You can access free, impartial advice other money-related issue from moneyadvice.scot or by calling 0808 196 2316, Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm. Advice available to everyone in Scotland, at no cost, regardless of personal circumstance.