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‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Combats COVID-19 With Payment Options

‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Combats COVID-19

We pay a price for not exercising, but conversely, gyms and online classes aren’t free of charge. The more specialized and exotic the workout routine, the higher the fee, generally speaking. That’s equally true for workout apparel – the great stuff is priced accordingly.

Enter ‘buy now, pay later’ (BNPL), the layaway 2.0 point-of-sale (POS) form of lending that’s become a retail sensation around the world in recent years. Originally designed for consumer products, BNPL terms are expanding to all manner of things, including home exercise.

Diving deep into that topic, the April 2020 Buy Now Pay Later Tracker®, done in collaboration with Afterpay, documents how fitness is shaping up to be a strong BNPL category. That’s now critical, with COVID-19 stranding tens of millions of people at home as gyms, stores and studios sit empty.

Don’t Sweat It

“Americans enjoy many forms of fitness, with 51.6 percent of the population exercising for 30 minutes a day at least three times a week. Gym memberships and fitness class prices can add up, however, leading many fitness buffs to consider home gyms,” the report states. “The costs involved in these investments is enough to stop such plans in their tracks, however.”

Remote workout brands like Bowflex and Peloton were well-positioned for COVID-19’s social distancing order from the get-go, with preexisting menus of live-streaming classes and, of course, their eponymous home gym hardware. Helping Americans pay for tech-enabled workout gear – and the lululemon apparel and Balenciaga sneakers to go with it – is where BNPL comes in.

“BNPL solutions allow young shoppers to buy the items they want and need using their own money and paying over time,” Nick Molnar, U.S. CEO and co-founder of AfterPay, told PYMNTS. “It is for these reasons that we see buy now, pay later solutions being so rapidly adopted across the fitness market and almost all retail categories.”

Looking at yoga, for example, “The average U.S. yogi spends $62,640 on [yoga accessories and classes] over his or her lifetime, and this barrier could stand to be reduced,” Jessica Thompson, founder and CEO of yoga mat eTailer, YOGO, said in the latest Buy Now Pay Later Tracker®.

Fitness in the Time of COVID-19

COVID-19 notwithstanding, millennials are now – and will for some time remain – the big spenders on fitness gear and memberships. But all that health gets exceedingly pricey.

“Exercise options’ often hefty costs can put a damper on this enthusiasm,” the April Tracker states, adding, “One study found that average monthly fitness expenses top $155, which equates to $112,000 over a lifetime. This price tag is more than a four-year public college degree – which currently clocks in at $98,440, on average – and includes both gym memberships and fitness classes like Pilates or spin. Factoring in luxury options like Equinox or SoulCycle causes prices to rise even more.”

So as not to pull a financial hammy while getting in shape, fitness gear manufacturers utilize payment plans to take the burn out of acquiring these items. Consumers and merchants, however, are gravitating to BNPL for its payment terms and fee structure.

At-home fitness is having a major moment because of COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing rules, and BNPL is helping to make it more affordable for millions of consumers.

“Maintaining personal fitness is an extremely important investment,” the report states. “The global population is increasingly staying indoors to avoid COVID-19’s effects, but the mental and physical health benefits of regular exercise should not be understated. BNPL solutions – when used responsibly – can offer convenient solutions that help fitness enthusiasts achieve their goals at home.”

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