Western Europe: 2021 offers hope to COVID-hit markets

Baromètre des Pratiques de Paiement

  • Austria,
  • Belgium,
  • Denmark,
  • France,
  • Germany,
  • Greece,
  • Ireland,
  • Italy,
  • Netherlands,
  • Spain,
  • Sweden,
  • Switzerland,
  • United Kingdom
  • Agriculture,
  • Automotive/Transport,
  • Chemicals/Pharma,
  • Construction,
  • Consumer Durables,
  • Electronics/ICT,
  • Food,
  • Machines/Engineering,
  • Metals,
  • Steel

25 nov. 2020

This year’s Payments Practices Barometer survey in Western Europe was conducted during the pandemic downturn.


For many businesses around the world, 2020 has been the most challenging year experienced for some time. Global GDP is forecast to contract by more than 4% this year, world trade by about 15% and insolvencies to increase by 26%. Without exception, every country polled in Europe reported an increase in late payments which corresponds to an average two-thirds increase on pre-pandemic figures for the whole region. This would make a bigger downturn than the 2008/2009 recession. That said the impact of the recession varies across companies, sectors and regions. The countries with the strongest GDP contractions are those that enacted the most stringent pandemic lockdowns.

In Western Europe, this includes France, Italy and Spain. Meanwhile, the UK has had to face a double uncertainty with the challenges presented by both the  pandemic and Brexit. It’s not all bad news. Many economies have been buoyed by governmental fiscal policies including tax breaks, social assistance and freezes on insolvency proceedings.

Key takeaways from the report

  • Trade credit is, on average, used in 55% of B2B sales across Western Europe, lower than the 60% average seen in last year’s pre-pandemic sales
  • Payment terms lengthened by an average of 12 days. Where businesses did offer trade credit, many chose to increase the payment terms they offered in a bid to increase  competitiveness and support customer liquidity issues
  • Overdue invoices and write-offs increased dramatically, by two-thirds on pre-pandemic figures
  • 94% of businesses in Europe report lengthening DSO
  • Despite pandemic challenges, a modest majority of businesses in Western Europe anticipate growth in their domestic markets next year. On balance, more businesses in the region are optimistic about the global economy and international trade

Interested in getting to know more?

For a complete overview of the corporate payment behaviour in Western Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic and global recession, please download the complete report for the region, which gives also insight into the impact of the pandemic-induced economic crisis on the following industries regional level:

  • Agri-food
  • Chemicals
  • Consumer durables
  • Steel-metals

Survey results for corporate payment behaviour by country (and other industries, including construction, construction materials, ICT/electronics, machines, paper, textile, transport and services including business services) can be found in individual reports featuring the listed below countries in Western Europe.
Click on the country of your interest to be redirected to the related page. 

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