Atradius Payment Practices Barometer survey shows Australian businesses are resorting to stronger credit controls to battle high levels of unpaid debt.
Several major concerns for the future are spelled out by the results of the Atradius Payment Practices Barometer Survey for Australia in what is a period of severe economic flux. These include the prospect of rising global oil prices and inflation, along with uncertainty about the ongoing pandemic. Fears about geopolitical conflicts and the way supply chain disruption might affect global trade also feature. Companies polled in Australia have significant worries about a negative impact on profits in the coming year.
Despite this most businesses retain a positive outlook, and they expect some improvement in B2B payment practices during the next 12 months. Trusting customers to make payments may encourage sales expansion and also build loyalty. This might lengthen DSO, however, and have a negative effect on liquidity levels.
Another factor is that insolvencies are expected to increase in frequency in the back half of the year, and perhaps reach the levels last seen in 2019. There have already been some large insolvencies in the first quarter, and this is expected to have some flow-on effect.
“The figures in the report do show signs of increasing stress,” said Mark Hoppe, Managing Director Oceania. “They show unpaid trade debt is still high, with 42% of invoices overdue and 6% written off as uncollectable.
“Payment default risks are growing as the global economy heads towards possible recession. We expect bad debts and insolvencies to continue rising to at least pre-Covid levels. Suppliers need to be prepared to manage this financial stress. It will be important to have greater market information than just their own trading experience.”
The Atradius PPB survey for Australia also found that 46% of companies said they increased trading on credit with B2B customers. Two important reasons were to protect current sales from competition, and to allow B2B customers more time to pay. Once again, this only underlines the crucial importance of strategic credit management.