SMEs in the north-east are stop-gapping their cash flow problems by turning to pawnbrokers, according to a report in local news publication The Journal.
With bank lending hard to come by and many other conventional forms of finance also suffering during the downturn, sole traders and SMEs are taking desperate measures to cover costs.
This includes pawnbrokers, but also incorporates borrowing from friends and family, putting costs on credit cards, and cashing in on the value of assets in other ways.
According to The Journal, Newcastle's H&T Pawnbrokers have seen a surge in businesspeople taking out short-term loans to cover their commercial outgoings.
"We had a businessman who borrowed £32,500, which he used to cover wages until his dividends paid out; he had shares in open-cast mining," says regional manager John Peterson.
"We have plumbers who use pawnbroking to help them buy supplies. Another man borrowed £7,500 on a watch to help pay his tax bill."
Despite continuing efforts to make sure banks in the UK are lending in sufficient amounts to businesses, it seems many are still setting stringent criteria on their loans.
Mr Peterson says it is the ease of borrowing from pawnbrokers that is therefore attracting many businesspeople who may have been turned down elsewhere.
He also suggests that the banks that approve business customers for lending may still be too slow to provide the cash.
With pawnbrokers, he says, the valuation process takes a matter of minutes and the complete transaction can then be fulfilled with the exchange of funds.
Ted Salmon, regional chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses for the north-east,
tells the publication that many SMEs' problems with cash flow can be traced further down the supply chain.
"For many, the issue around cash flow could be solved through a more concerted effort from bigger businesses to pay on time," he suggests.
"Our members are reporting that late payment is having a massive impact on cash flow with far too many waiting for longer to be paid.
"This is costing small businesses across the UK almost £700 million just to chase up payment for work already completed."
While Mr Salmon is correct that chasing payments can be a costly process, it is worth pointing out that it is typically more time-consuming and costly if you spend your own time pursuing for payment.
If you allow yourself to become bogged down in chasing customers who owe you money, you risk wasting your own time - particularly if you fail to convince them to pay up.
Under recently introduced legislation, however, you can now charge any debt collection fees to the debtor, rather than paying them out of your recovered funds.
That makes it cost-free to call in the debt collectors when an invoice is overdue, with the option of adding statutory interest to the amount you claim - and, of course, outsourcing your debt recover process frees up your admin time, too, while helping to maintain liquidity in your cash flow.
Image Broad Street Pawn Shop by Eli Christman is licensed under CC BY 2.0