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The financial and operational impacts of European SMEs' use of trade credit as a substitute for bank credit

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We study the impacts of the use of trade credit on SME financial performance and operational distress in a sample of 74,036 SMEs across 19 EU countries between 2006 to 2015. Under the premise that trade credit acts as a substitute for bank credit, our results show that supplying trade credit improves profitability, but we show little evidence that such an investment is more profitable for bank credit richer SMEs, although such firms did redistribute more bank fund through trade credit to their customers. For receivers, we show that the use of trade credit finance alleviates operational distress, especially for those SMEs facing liquidity constraints, such as those which have less access to bank credit or under credit tightened periods. This distress reduction effect is also reflected in their profitability indicators. However, the longer the average collection period and credit period, the less effective the trade credit effects respectively on improving SME profitability and reducing operational distress.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe European Journal of Finance
Early online date6 Jan 2021
Publication statusEarly online - 6 Jan 2021


  • WANGx_2021_cright_The financial and operational impacts of European SMEs use of trade credit as a substitute for bank credit

    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The European Journal of Finance on 06.01.2021, available online:

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 783 KB, PDF document

    Due to publisher’s copyright restrictions, this document is not freely available to download from this website until: 6/07/22

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