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When Is a Sale Not a Sale?

The answer is, when the goods have been ordered and shipped, but when the money has not been collected.

In the old days, that was not a problem. "Old" payment  terms were thirty days, with a discount of 1% or 2% for prompt payment within ten days. And since goods were typically not shipped more often than a 30-day cycle, the deadbeats showed themselves after one missed payment. On the other hand, people who had paid in the past could be counted on to pay in the future.

This changed with the establishment of installment sales, one of the dicier inventions of the 1920s. (The 1990s and 2000s featured numerous variations on this credit scheme, which is to say that they constituted the modern 1920s, and brought about the current malaise, the modern 1930s).

The problem is that the seller "fronts" the value of the inventory for partial payment. The seller is exposed, not only for the unpaid value of the inventory itself, but the compound interest thereon. Therefore, installment sales need to include an interest component; otherwise the seller will lose money. So installment sales include both credit and interest rate risk, making them FAR riskier than cash sales.

"Sales happy" sellers don't seem to understand these facts, which makes them far more willing to provide vendor financing than is economically justified.