It seems only fitting that Halloween week should be the moment when Blockbuster Video - one of the UK's biggest zombie businesses - reveals that, for the second time in ten months, it is lurching back into the corporate graveyard.

Zombie businesses are those that are only just surviving, but would be unlikely or unable to continue to do so if there were any kind of substantial shock to their ongoing operations.

That pretty much sums up Blockbuster's situation, as current owners Gordon Brothers Europe have been unable to bring the company into the 21st century; former US parent company Dish still own the digital rights to the brand, and competitors like LoveFilm, Netflix and Sky have already cornered the British market for streaming films.

The Centre for Retail Research has published its latest Who's Gone Bust? report, giving an insight into how retail companies have been affected by five years of economic turbulence.

Worryingly for all involved in the sector, it appears that conditions are getting worse; 2012 saw 54 companies fail, matching the previous highest total set in 2008, and with 39 brands failing by the end of August alone, 2013 is on track to be even worse.

Britain's small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute some 99.9% to the private sector - but are facing losses of around £3.7 billion due to poor credit control and debt collection processes.

A report from Exact, a provider of business and finance software, tallies up the costs of non-payment to UK SMEs, with some fairly alarming figures for individual examples of unpaid invoices.

Research from the Bank of Cyprus UK reveals the extent to which British business owners are worried about their cash flow - even in the face of decent sales figures, and to a greater degree than they are concerned about the wider economy.

The findings fly in the face of recent headlines in the mainstream media, where you might be forgiven for thinking the state of the nation's finances as a whole is the biggest obstacle facing small to medium-sized businesses.

Local authorities have been urged to manage their debt collection processes more responsibly, in order to cut down on the 1.8 million instances each year in which bailiffs are hired to recover overdue council tax payments and similar arrears.

Figures from the Money Advice Trust show substantial regional variation in the use of bailiffs by local authorities - but hint at a worryingly high prevalence of bailiffs being used to collect county court judgments nationwide.

Otium Corporation Ltd have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons recently, particularly in a Daily Record report of how they left one aerospace contractor out of pocket by £9,000 after their payments to him simply stopped.

Stuart Jack was on a one-year contract to work at BAE Systems in Prestwick, but his payments did not come directly from BAE - instead, they went through Otium Corporation's Ltd’s service address in Batley, West Yorkshire.

A recently published Late Payments Report makes 11 recommendations that MPs believe could help small businesses to receive what they are owed more promptly from their big-business customers.

MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth Debbie Abrahams convened and chaired a cross-party parliamentary inquiry into the issue of prompt payment for small businesses, which heard evidence from several large FTSE companies, as well as affected SMEs.

Have you heard the one about the Croydon conman who paid for his shopping in Harrods with a £245,000 dud cheque?

It's no joke - 49-year-old Philip Buffett of Fairfield Road faces a jail term for fraud after paying with a cheque from a closed account for goods including a £183,000 Hublot watch.

Ireland has announced the wording of its Code of Conduct on Prompt Payments, a voluntary charter similar to that in place in the UK.

Small business minister John Perry announced the Code on July 1st; it is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

A former West Yorkshire Police Detective Sergeant has been convicted of money laundering after standing accused of operating or being involved in the operation of fraudulent debt elimination companies and escort agencies.

DS Christopher Taylor ran Wakefield-based First Debt Recovery, established in 2008 and supposedly drawing on his experience with the CID and Fraud Squad.

However, it was later alleged that First Debt Recovery had been laundering money for several businesses operated by Anthony Muldoon, including five bogus debt elimination firms and a total of 28 escort agencies.

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