Trade credit insurer Atradius has published 2021’s annual Payment Practices Barometer Survey Results for Western Europe.
Denmark had the highest percentage of overdue invoices and write-offs at 62% and 14% of the total value of B2B invoices respectively. However, for the Western Europe as a whole, overdue payments amounted to 53% of the total value of invoices, an increase on last year’s 47%. The percentage of write-offs increased from 7% to 10% of the total value of invoices, higher than the 5% with no year-on-year change reported for neighbouring Eastern Europe. In the UK, 44% of the total value of B2B sales were reported as overdue this year with 8% written off.
The deterioration of payment practices in Western Europe this year appears to have increased the demand in credit insurance, with more than half of the businesses in the region planning to use credit insurance next year.
According to Andreas Tesch, Atradius Chief Market Officer, these survey results show businesses poised at a pivotal time. He said: “Businesses have already weathered the pandemic driven downturn, but there are signs that next year could be even more challenging. On a global level, we are expecting to see insolvencies increase by about 33%. In Western Europe specifically, estimates point to an uptick in business failures in Italy and the UK of 34% and 33% respectively. Businesses should take note of the heightened risk environment and take steps to protect their accounts receivable.”
This year’s survey also polled businesses about operating during the pandemic and whether the restrictions on the movement of people and goods had impacted the way they worked. The majority reported they had increased the use of digitalisation and many said they had permanently adopted digital tools. These included approaches ranging from cloud-based services to software enabling e-commerce and home working.
The Atradius Payment Practices Barometer survey was conducted in the Q3 2021 with businesses from thirteen countries across Western Europe. The results provide a good insight into payment behaviour of specific industries and markets and can provide a good temperature check of market confidence. The individual country reports can be found in the Publications section of the Atradius website.