Paying for Christmas in June

3rd January, 2019

By Matthew Vincent – Financial Times

“So, how was your Christmas?” This will be the default greeting for most workers this morning, writes Matthew Vincent . . . with certain obvious exceptions: the finance directors of bricks-and-mortar retailers. They have known for some time that the season would be far from festive.

Next’s trading update on Thursday only confirmed the gloom, with a 9.2 per cent fall in store sales between October 28 and December 29. But the writing has been on the shopping mall wall for some time.

Three weeks ago, the British Retail Consortium published data showing November footfall in UK shops fell 3.2 per cent year on year — a 12th consecutive month of decline. Its sales breakdown for the month showed why, as if anyone was in any doubt: one in three purchases of non-food products was made online.

Nor was it due to get any better pre- or post-Christmas. Springboard, the retail research provider, was forecasting 4.2 per cent lower footfall in December, with Boxing Day store visits down 5.2 per cent — the sharpest fall since the recession. Director Diane Wehrle said: “It is going to be the worst Christmas we’ve had for a good few years.” She was about as joyful as Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley, who recently told MPs, as if anyone was in any doubt: “I’m not Father Christmas.”

However, a more worrying indicator has emerged: unpaid supplier invoices. According to analysis by finance provider Greensill and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, there has been an 18 per cent increase in global accounts receivable — money still owed for goods already supplied — at the top manufacturers of Christmas gifts, and other companies in their supply chains.

Among them, the biggest increase has been at clothing suppliers, where accounts receivable are up 19 per cent to about $23bn. Retailers are now taking up to six months to pay up. If midwinter was bleak, January to June is not looking better.

Read full article.

< Back to News

Visionary, Bold, Disruptive

Each month, Greensill’s team of experts contribute to the latest insights and analysis, setting the agenda and leading the discussion on unlocking capital so you can put it to work.


27th July, 2020

Doctors Go Digital

A new digital partnership has developed solutions that enable the NHS to cover staff shortages more efficiently, provide on-demand pay for doctors working additional locum shifts and can potentially reduce the NHS annual agency bill for temporary staff.


16th June, 2020

Fair Finance in Latin America

Greensill is rapidly scaling up to offer Latin American businesses a much-needed lifeline and fairer access to finance. Learn how a new Greensill partnership aims to unlock $750 billion of working capital across Latin America.


22nd April, 2020

Drive to Survive: Funding the Automotive Future

Covid-19 and regulatory pressure present incredible challenges for the automotive industry, but investments in the future of transportation offer a path forward. Learn how Greensill is helping to fund the automotive future.


6th March, 2020

Spotlight on Suppliers

Greensill founder and CEO Lex Greensill understands the difference a steady stream of reliable working capital can make to a small business. Hear from the businesses and people who rely on Greensill to make finance fairer for all.

Sign up to monthly insights in our Newsletter

Subscribe to the Greensill monthly newsletter to discover the latest in news, views and insights in the world of balance sheet optimisation, working capital and supply chain finance. Join the discussion today.