Buy now pay later usage surges to 13.5m UK users as cost-of-living bites

More than one quarter of UK consumers are turning to buy now, pay later (BNPL) schemes amid worsening cost-of-living crisis, according to new data from Forbes Advisor.

The report showed that 70% of BNPL shoppers are using these services more than ever, as a result of the cost of living crisis.

BNPL shoppers aged between 18 and 24 are currently the most reliant on these payment methods, with four in five of those increasing their BNPL spend in the last six months.

Consumers aged between 25 and 34 have upped their spending through these services the second most, with three quarters (75%) using them more regularly, as everyday prices soar.

Why do you use buy now, pay later (BNPL) services?

% respondents selecting this reason

I can break up the cost of purchases into manageable payments


I will know the full payment cost upfront and don’t have to worry about interest charges


It allows me to make purchases that are otherwise not in my cashflow budget


It gives me the ability to try a product before paying for it


I do not have the cashflow to make certain purchases and have been refused a credit card, so it is my only option


Source: Buy Now Pay Later study, Forbes Advisor

The greatest appeal of BNPL service is the ability to split the cost into more manageable payments, with 38% selecting this as the reason for using the schemes.

The benefit of transparent costs and 0% interest charges came in second place with 33% saying this was the reason they used BNPL products.

A number of respondents admitted they used BNPL services to make payments outside their budgets.

Almost two in five (39%) Gen Z users (those aged between 18 and 24) claim to be using BNPL to keep up with fashion trends.

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Over a third (38%) insist that BNPL services act as an alternative method to purchase items when cash is a tight (38%).

More than one in three (38%) favour the ability to break up the cost of purchases into manageable payments.

The research showed that UK shoppers are unfortunately regularly failing to pay back their debt within a couple of months of purchasing the item.

Almost one quarter of BNPL users (24%) are missing payments monthly and more than one in four (27%) are skipping them at least every few months.


Average BNPL debt monthly

18 to 24


25 to 34


35 to 44


45 to 54


55 to 64


65 and over


Source: Buy Now Pay Later study, Forbes Advisor

“The attraction of BNPL is obvious – it brings products within reach for people who cannot afford the ticket price up front and who perhaps do not have access to other forms of credit,” Forbes Advisor financial expert Laura Howard said.

“But the lure of being able to buy something immediately should not tempt people into a financial arrangement that they cannot manage or afford. If you’re late with your payments there’s the prospect of fees, and you could end up staining your credit file, making it harder to secure financial products at a later date.

“The government and financial regulator have already already criticised some BNPL marketing activity as irresponsible, and we can expect tougher regulation of the market in 2023.

“Using credit services such as credit cards and personal loans means meeting repayment schedules or facing penalties that can be costly and far-reaching. People need to keep this in mind when deciding whether to use a BNPL scheme or, indeed, any other credit product.”



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