The program is called Supplier Early Payment. Capital has provided some iteration of the program since 2011, and targets Chinese-based exporters and U.S.-based importers and retailers. Chinese factories typically shut down for the two weeks prior to the lunar new year to allow workers to return home to celebrate the holiday, and then for another two weeks after to allow for their travel back to the factory. In order for goods to meet the spring deadlines, they would need to be produced and shipped from China before the New Year. Capital’s trade credit program allows firms to arrange for payment — particularly importers that need the financing earlier than usual, or those who might need assistance due to shrinking margins — to get their spring orders on time.
The Chinese New Year in 2016 begins on Feb. 8.
Andrew Tananbaum, Capital’s executive chairman, said about “70 percent of the business is in apparel.” Tananbaum said the program has been growing “substantially on a percentage basis” since inception, and that “once a wholesaler or retailer is accepted into the program so Capital can underwrite their credit, they tend to stay in the program.” Tananbaum said the program is particularly useful for smaller suppliers or importers who work with a smaller concentration of suppliers.
Wall Street analysts have noted in recent weeks that some manufacturers have orders still sitting in the hallways waiting for the go-ahead from retailers to ship the goods. Much of that has stemmed from the extra inventory already on the sales floor that still needs to be moved out the door. The expectation is that the existing goods at retail will be cleared out via promotions over the next few weeks. It was still unclear what would happen to the goods already waiting to be shipped, with manufacturers hoping there would not be any cancelation by the retailers.
As for spring orders, Tananbaum said, “We haven’t seen any pullback on orders yet.”
While Tananbaum noted that there’s usually an issue of having too much inventory in the supply chain, he noted that the orders for spring deliveries at the end of January were placed around October, about 90 days to 120 days before need. “It’s a reflection of people’s attitudes then and what they thought spring 2016 is going to look like. There was probably [a higher level] consumer confidence a couple of months ago,” he said.
While it can be hard to tell what would affect people’s buying habits — such as the unseasonally warm weather in the East Coast now and how it affects purchases for outerwear and cold weather goods — Tananbaum is predicting that “[w]e may see some good numbers in the nonapparel space. Electronics might be better.”