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Study Notes

Debtor (Receivable) Days

GCSE, AS, A-Level
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

The debtor (or trade receivables) days ratio is all about liquidity.

The ration focuses on the time it takes for trade debtors to settle their bills. The ratio indicates whether debtors are being allowed excessive credit.

A high figure (more than the industry average) may suggest general problems with debt collection or the financial position of major customers. The efficient and timely collection of customer debts is a vital part of cash flow management, so this is a ratio which is very closely watched in many businesses.

Debtor Days Formula and Example

The average time taken by customers to pay their bills varies from industry to industry, although it is a common complaint that trade debtors take too long to pay in nearly every market.

Among the factors to consider when interpreting debtor days are:

  • The industry average debtor days needs to be taken into account. In some industries it is just assumed that the credit that can be taken is 45 days, or 60 days or whatever everyone else seems (or claims) to be taking
  • A business can determine through its terms and conditions of sale how long customers are officially allowed to take
  • There are several actions a business can take to reduce debtor days, including offering early-payment incentives or by using invoice factoring

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