Germany: late payments cloud economic recovery

Payment Practices Barometer

  • Germany
  • Automotive/Transport,
  • Chemicals/Pharma,
  • Metals,
  • Steel

24th November 2021

German GDP is forecast to rebound this year, enjoying a more robust acceleration by year-end 2022. However, late payments across industries cast a cloud over this outlook.


German GDP is forecast to achieve a modest rebound by the end of 2021, and enjoy a more robust acceleration by year-end 2022. However, payment practices across industries cast cloud over this fairly bright outlook. A significant number of businesses polled in Germany for the Payment Practices Barometer survey told us they withheld payments to suppliers when experiencing slow paying customers. While this might help to ease cash flow issues in the short term, it also risks creating an ever-tightening circle of poor payment practices and a knock-on effect that could cascade down the supply chain.

Key takeaways from the report

  • Businesses polled across Germany experienced a year-on-year increase in the total value of B2B invoices that were still outstanding after 90 days overdue. This rose to 10%, up from 8% last year and almost all of these were written off as uncollectable.
  • This heightened customers credit risk environment may explain the contraction in the total percentage of credit sales revealed by our survey in Germany. This year, 45% of all B2B sales were made on credit, compared to a total of 55% last year.
  • 60% of businesses polled in the country told us they did not change their payment terms granted to B2B customers this year. However, only 50% were able to contain DSO (Days Sales Outstanding) year-on-year.
  • Looking ahead, 78% of the businesses we spoke to in Germany expressed optimism and predicted growth in 2022.
  • Over half of the respondents to our survey (54%) told us they intend to trade credit with B2B customers more often next year. This largely as a way to provide short-term finance for their customers. To protect their accounts receivable next year, many plan to take out credit insurance.
  • When asked whether the pandemic had permanently influenced their business operations, 58% of the businesses polled told us they have permanently adopted aspects of digitalisation, including for some increased use of e-commerce in B2B trade.

Interested in getting to know more?

The Payment Practices Barometer report for Germany gives insights into B2B payment practices and businesses' approach to the management of customer credit risk in the following local industries:

  • Chemicals
  • Steel/Metals
  • Transport

For a complete overview, please download the full country report available in the Related documents section below. The Statistical Appendix and regional Payment Practices Barometer survey results are also available free to download.

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