Despite talk of a slight upturn in the economy, businesses are paying their bills later than ever, according to market watcher Experian.
Its latest second-quarter figures show that businesses paid bills on average a day later than the same period last year, at 24.58 days beyond terms from April to June 2013, compared with 23.46 days in Q2 2012.
In the IT industry, firms were paying their bills 23.49 days beyond agreed terms, compared with 21.66 days in Q2 2012.
However, overall, larger companies (with 501+ employees) experienced the highest annual increase of more than three days from 30.91 in Q2 2012, up to 34.19 in Q2 2013. Smaller firms (with one to two and three to five employees) led the charge, paying invoices 24.58 days after agreed terms, compared with 24.65 days in Q1 and 25.63 days in Q4 last year.
Max Firth, UK managing director of Experian’s Business Information Services division, said: “Between March 2009 and June 2012, the UK’s largest firms saw the biggest improvements in their payment performance – falling by 12 days over this period. No other size of business saw such levels of improvement. Although these firms are still paying their suppliers faster than they were in 2009, the slowdown in payment over the past 12 months will be felt by the wider supply chain.
“These firms deal with hundreds of suppliers across multiple sites, numerous departments and hundreds of employees, so bringing their payment performance in line with smaller firms is a real challenge. Smaller businesses should consider spending time and resources to ensure they get paid on time.”
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