SMEs predict greater delinquency due to the impact of the rate hike


cepymethe small and medium-sized business association, has alerted today a possible increase in delinquency and the cost associated with it as a consequence of higher inflation and the restriction of access to credit, made more expensive by the rise in rates. According to data from its Delinquency Observatory, the average payment period for the first quarter stood at its lowest records since 2015 (82.1 days on average), in what they consider “prudent treasury management”, but which also implies a abnormal commercial traffic situation: “companies are having to take measures to protect their treasury,” said Diego Barceló, head of employers’ studies.

Microenterprises are the ones that are taking the worst part. If the data is compared with that of the first quarter of 2019, they are suffering a longer collection period, with a average payment period 15 days longer to that of four years ago, when in medium-sized companies it has been reduced by five days”, according to data from the Observatory.

The time in which companies pay their invoices has grown to 82.1 days in recent months, from the 80.3 days registered in the fourth quarter of 2022, although this situation would be due to “the seasonality of the start of the year” . In recent months, this PMP has shown a clear downward trend with the only rise in this first quarter of the year. The good data shown is not enough for Cepyme, which considers that it is still “22 days more than what the norm says”.

All sectors —agrifood, industry, construction and services— are paying your bills faster than in previous years, with the exception of the energy subsector. Retail and wholesale trade and vehicle sales are the sectors that have recorded average record payment periods since 2007, something that Cepyme justifies in the fact that its financial difficulties are being greater.

Precisely, the higher cost of financing has also caused the cost of commercial debt doubles compared to one year up to 2,649 million euros, the highest since 2011. “When a company invoices and does not collect, it has to finance that payment and assume a cost. And these financing conditions have become much more expensive due to inflation, because rates rise and because the default has gone up,” explained Barceló. The aggregate commercial debt of SMEs is around 200,000 million euros according to the employers’ association, also standing at 2011 levels.

This cost of debt will continue to grow, foreseeably, given the rises in interest rates that are still on the agenda of the central banks. “The forecast is that it will continue to rise. At what rate it will do so will depend on the decisions that are made, but it will do so because the rates will continue to do so,” Barceló pointed out.

The president of Cepyme, gerardo cuervahas urged the Government of Spain to approve the new European late payment directive, taking advantage of the rotating presidency of the European Union that will begin in June. “Late payment is one of the factors that hinder the competitiveness of SMEs and their growth, which is why we work to ensure that it converges to reasonable areas.”

“The cost that companies would have to face to be able to defray the commercial debt is 1,300 million. As it is not paid within 60 days, we have to invest another 1,300 million, double. This is not invested in productivity, competitiveness or other aspects, and so it becomes a drag on growth,” he concluded.

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