SMEs in retail sector prompt in paying their bills, says credit bureau

SINGAPORE - Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the retail sector paid their bills more briskly last year, according to research from the DP SME Commercial Credit Bureau.

They took just 42 days to pay their bills at the end of 2014 - three weeks faster than the 63 days taken at the end of 2013.

The number of retail companies with severely delinquent debts has also seen a "dramatic reduction", from 41 per cent to 19 per cent.

Severely delinquent debts are bills which are unpaid 90 days after they are due.

Ms Ong Siew Kim, senior general manager of DP Information Group, said that the faster payment speeds may have been forced on the retail industry by creditors and suppliers, who have become stricter in their lending and payment terms.

On the other hand, firms in the shipping and marine sector slowed their payments by nine days in the fourth quarter of last year to 63 days.

While this is a rather steep decline, the payment speeds in the industry have now returned that of 2013, noted the group.

The falling oil prices since the middle of last year may have contributed to the slower payment cycle as the anticipation of a further drop in prices might have added to cash flow constraints, it added.

"While the big players tend to be slower payers in lieu of more tedious payment processes, smaller players who are less able to fend themselves in times of uncertainty also find an added pressure in their ability to make prompt payments."

Payment speed in the construction sector dropped the most, from 32 days to 45 days.