Payment Delays: Don’t Lower Your Guard

Payment Delays: Don’t Lower Your Guard

May 2018
  • Good news on global growth comes with a significant deterioration in payment terms. Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) increased by +2 days in 2017 globally to 66 days on average, its highest level since 2007. It had previously been stable for five years, around 64 days. As global growth accelerated, companies extended their trust to their clients through longer payment delays. We expect DSO to rise by one more day to 67 days in 2018, due to the positive economic and financial outlook.
  • DSO increased in two out of three countries and two out three sectors in 2017. In particular, DSO increased where it was already high. One company out of four in 2017 was paid by its clients within 90 days. In emerging countries, it was one company out of three.
  • Overall, Electronics, Machinery and Construction record the highest DSO (all above 85 days). They are also the sectors where the number of companies with DSO exceeding 90 days is the highest: almost half of the companies in Electronics, two out of five companies in Capital goods and Construction. On the other end of the spectrum, Agrifood, Transportation and Leisure goods companies are paid a lot faster than the global average.
  • The US, part of the Eurozone and China experience the highest increase in DSO:
    • (i) DSO increased by +2 days in the US in 2017
    •  (ii) It increased by +2 days (to 66 days) in the euro zone, hiding significant increases (Spain, Portugal, Greece, the Netherlands) and sharp decreases (Italy, Denmark, Finland)
    • (iii) it increased by +3 days in China (v. +1 day on average in Asia), reaching a ten-year high at 92 days.

Chart 1  Change in (global figures of) DSO and GDP growth between 2007 and 2018