Late payments at highest rate since March

8th October 2021

New analysis by Sidetrade has found that the percentage of late payments by UK companies hit a six month high in September, following a steady decline since March this year.

The research revealed that the proportion of invoices left unpaid*by UK businesses rose for the first time in September since March 2021, according to its Unpaid Invoice Tracker.

The research also showed that late payment levels in UK retail companies returned to June 2020 levels whilst the Financial Services & Real Estate sector took top spot for highest percentage of late payments.

As of 25th September 2021, the average percentage of unpaid invoices by UK companies across all sectors stood at 22.5%, compared to 18.9% in August, and 19.6% on average throughout April-August this year.

The proportion of late payments by UK companies had been gradually improving each month since March this year when overall figures stood at 22.4%.

Looking at the different sectors, Financial Services & Real Estate companies took top spot for the highest percentage of payment delays, with 33% of invoices left unpaid in September.

At companies in the Retail sector, 17% of invoices were deemed overdue in September, compared to a monthly average of 9.5% throughout April-August. The sector had not experienced highs of this proportion since June 2020 (17%).

Rob Harvey, Chief Product Officer at Sidetrade said “This rise in delayed invoices that we’re seeing in our data could be attributed to a number of factors, including the increasing business costs from the global supply chain shortage, anxiety of rising inflation, and the end of the Government furlough scheme this month. All of these factors have a knock-on effect on overall working capital management and industry cash flow.”


Month’s average % of unpaid invoices (10+ days after their due date out of total outstanding invoices)

March 2021


April 2021


May 2021


June 2021


July 2021


August 2021


September 2021