home  › Business and economy

After six years, payments between companies are now more punctual

by Carlo Andrea Finotto

For the first time since 2011, there’s been an increase in the percentage of companies that pay their bills and suppliers on time: the increase has been by nearly 3 percentage points (+2.8% in the second quarter of 2017, in comparison with 2016). Furthermore, excessively late payments (more than 30 days after the deadline) have fallen by 16%. This updated snapshot of payments in Italy was provided by the Cribis study, which claims that the percentage of punctual businesses has risen to 36.4% between April and June of this year, while the percentage of “bad payers” is just 11%.

“This is an inversion of trends in Italian companies’ regular payments,” states Cribis CEO Marco Preti, “which had continuously dropped on a year-to-year basis since 2011. According to the latest study, this percentage has started to rise again, along with the constant drop in egregious late payments; these should certainly be interpreted as indications of the improvement in the state of Italian businesses. Just like the amount of failures, which has constantly dropped for a couple of years.”

Preti still warns against celebrating prematurely: “We mustn’t forget that the problems from the crisis years aren’t behind us yet, seeing as how excessively late payments have shot up by 100% in comparison to 2010’s totals, whereas punctual payments have dropped by 2.9%. These same companies have shown what a difficult situation they’ve had to face in recent years, with lower revenues and an increase in late and missing payments.”

Many observers have noticed the improvement in these percentages, but there’s no shortage of criticisms, starting with the overall numbers: though punctual payments have increased in the second quarter of this year (to 36.4%, as previously stated), this is still a long ways off from the percentage at the end of 2011 (45.7%). Excessively late payments (which have dropped by 16%) currently comprise 11% of all payments; this is double the amounts in 2010 and 2011. Late payments that are made within 30 days are still four points higher than the percentage six years ago: 52.6%, versus 48.6%.

At a regional level, the most diligent companies can be found in the Northeast, with 45% making regular payments and only 6.6% making excessively late payments. In the Northwest, 41.5% of businesses are diligent about paying on time, whereas 7.6% have made excessively late payments. The balance shifts in Central/Southern Italy: the Center features 32.7% diligent businesses and 12.8% negligent ones. In the South and the Islands, fewer than one out of four businesses (23.6%) are diligent and 18.4% pay their suppliers more than 30 days after their deadlines.

The best region in terms of punctual payments is the Veneto, with 46.1% diligent businesses and only 6.3% making excessively late payments; rounding out the top five are Emilia-Romagna (45.5%), Lombardy (45.2%), Friuli-Venezia Giulia (44.2%), and Trentino-Alto Adige (40.7%). Sicily, on the other hand, brings up the rear as the only region of Italy where the percentage of delinquent payers (20.4%) outnumbers the percentage of punctual ones (19.7%). Calabria, Campania, and Sardinia follow in line.

In terms of sectors, financial services is the most diligent compartment with 47% punctual payments and 8.6% excessively late payments. Industry and production have also done well, with 41.8% punctual businesses and 7.3% excessively late ones. “In detail, the difficulties in commerce have continued,” explains Cribis’ analysis, “and they risk influencing the production chains down the line: only 25.7% of the sector's businesses are punctual, whereas 17.3% of them pay their debts more than a month late.”