UK dealers paid their bills 1.7 days faster during Q1 2013 with 21.12 days beyond terms on average in comparison to 22.81 over Q1 2012.
According to new statistics from Experian, the motor industry fared better than the average across all industries which was 24.76 days beyond terms.
UK businesses paid their bills almost five days faster in the first quarter of 2013, compared to the same period in 2012.
This improvement is let down, however, by the fact that all other businesses saw an increase in the time taken to pay outstanding invoices – with the largest businesses (501 + employees) being two days slower than in 2012.
With regards the UK’s five biggest sectors, the property sector improved the most – paying bills roughly one day faster.
The postal and communications industry went 43.39 days beyond terms and the leisure and hotel industry went 33.55 days beyond terms. The spirits, wine and tobacco industry paid its bills the fastest over Q1 with an average of 8.71 days beyond terms.
Max Firth, UK managing director for Experian’s Business Information Services division, said: “The marked improvement by the smallest firms is certainly encouraging, but the decline among other businesses is a concern.
“There is still caution among many firms when it comes to offering business lifelines, such as trade credit and favourable payment terms, and this is impacting on the payment performance of businesses across the UK.
“Through careful monitoring of suppliers and customers, businesses can combat this lack of confidence, serve to ease cash flow issues and grow.”
Across the country
The biggest improvements in payment performance from all business types during Q1 came from Northern areas of the country – Scotland, Northern Ireland, North West of England and Yorkshire. Scottish firms paid their overdue bills 1.7 days faster than in Q1 of 2012 at 23.26 days. Companies in Northern Ireland improved their payment performance by more than one day, with late payments now standing at 17.10 days beyond terms.
Both the North West and Yorkshire saw their payment performance improve by around one day, falling to 34.17 days for firms in the North West and 23.86 days for firms in Yorkshire.
Businesses in the South West paid the fastest at 17 days beyond terms - hitting their best payment performance rate since Q3 2010 when it dropped to 16.7 days.