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EOS Survey 'European Payment Practices' 2015

Customers in Europe are more reliable at paying their invoices

Payment behaviour has improved across the whole of Europe compared to the previous year, with B2B customers in particular being more punctual in their payments. In 2014, a quarter of invoices in Western Europe were not paid on time or not paid at all (24 per cent), but this figure is now only one fifth (20 per cent). These are the results of the representative EOS Survey ‘European Payment Practices’ 2015, in which the market research institute TNS Infratest interviewed 2,800 decision-makers from 13 European countries. Companies in the United Kingdom, Belgium and Romania demonstrated a particular increase in adherence to payment deadlines. 

At the same time, European companies are setting their business customers shorter payment terms. Spanish companies are granting an average of 19 days less to pay invoices than in 2014. However, with a payment term of 45 days, they are still bottom of the league in the comparison of Western European countries. In Eastern Europe, the payment term for business customers is 40 days, which is well above the Western European average of 35 days. This is primarily a result of the high figures in Greece (51 days), Russia (41 days) and Slovakia (40 days).

As the EOS survey shows, the existing level of bad debt is causing uncertainty. The survival of more than one in eight companies in Western Europe (13 per cent) and almost one in seven in Eastern Europe (15 per cent) is threatened by annual bad debt levels.
There is evidence of a slight tendency towards partnerships with debt collection specialists: Some 40 per cent of those surveyed have placed their receivables management process in the hands of external service providers, either in whole or in part – 5 per cent more than in the previous year. However, more than half of companies continue to collect receivables themselves.

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