Between rising inflation and increasingly fragile supply chains, the financial security of the average American consumer has hit a new low. With consumer prices rising more than 7% in October and again in November, more and more people are struggling to make ends meet.
At the front lines of inflation is Walmart. The retail giant has seen increasing demand for its low-cost groceries and other essentials, and anticipates the demographics that make up its core customer base may soon have greater trouble affording those goods.
“We’ve got some customers who are more budget conscious that have been under inflation pressure now for months,” said Doug McMillon, Walmart’s Chief Executive Officer, in a recent interview. “That sustained pressure in some categories, I think, is something customers are having to deal with as we approach Christmas.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Walmart’s plan to help these vulnerable buyers lies in fintech: One, the startup in which Walmart has a majority share, is planning to launch a new buy now, pay later (BNPL) service for Walmart customers. Though Walmart already offers BNPL options through Affirm, this new service is intended to enable more flexible payments for its shoppers.