How are late customer payments impacting Australian businesses?

How are late

A Small Business Loans Australia Study

March 2023

Small Business Loans Australia commissioned a survey of 250 business directors and decision-makers to discover the impact of late customer payments on the Australian SME market and whether the proportion of late payments have increased since 2019 (before the pandemic).

Respondents were asked to specify how late customer payments impacted their business negatively. They were presented with seven responses:

  • not pay themselves when customer payments were late
  • struggling with cash flow to pay suppliers on time
  • struggling to pay staff
  • postponing or cancelling business purchases
  • reducing workers in their business
  • making late payments on business loans
  • negatively impacting their credit score

Small Business Loans Australia also sought to determine whether businesses expected to receive an increase in late payments this year as Australia faces a possible recession.

Small Business Loans Australia surveyed 210 owners and senior decision- makers across the full SME spectrum: micro (1-10 employees), small (11-50 employees) and medium-sized (51-200 employees), as well as a small percentage of large businesses (more than 200 employees).

Small Business Loans Australia Study
Thinking about the times that your customers have paid you later than your payment terms, have any of those late payments had negative impacts?
State (%)
Yes, I occasionally did not pay myself2522231624
Yes,3I did not have the cash flow to pay my own suppliers on time201461620
Yes, I occasionally struggled to pay staff20196118
Yes, I had to postpone or cancel business purchases due to the lower cash flow1554160
I had to reduce workers Yes, in my business to cover my cash flow issues105600
Yes, I was late making payments on business loans4541112
Yes, impacted my business credit score62408
Yes, but none of the above116131112
of NSW businesses have been negatively impacted by late payments.