Less trade but stable payment behavior in Q1 2024

Read time 5 minutes | Written by Shirley Chih | May 8, 2024

Press releases

Brussels, May 8, 2024 - From recent analyses by Altares Dun & Bradstreet it appears that Belgian companies traded less intensively in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the previous quarter. The trade intensity decreased by 5.0% compared to Q4 2023. Despite this decline, the overall payment amount and number of bankruptcies of Belgian companies have remained relatively stable since the beginning of 2024, totaling 3,215.

Stable payment behavior in Q1 2024

The decline in trade intensity had consequences for various sectors, with particularly notable decreases in trade activity observed in agriculture, forestry, and fishing (-7.10%), construction (-5.6%), restaurants and cafes (-5.2%), and wholesale (-5.2%).

On the other hand, the overall payment behavior of Belgian companies remained stable. This quarter, they paid on average 9.61 days after the due date, which represented a slight improvement of 0.31%. In the first quarter of 2023, 32.54% still paid within 30 days, while this percentage increased to 35.8% in the first quarter of 2024. Regarding payment terms by sector, restaurants (averaging around 15 days), hotels (averaging around 10 days), and mining (averaging around 10 days) stood out as late payers.

Bankruptcies affect the Construction, Trade, and Hospitality sectors

In the first quarter of 2024, the number of bankruptcies rose to 3,215, marking a 10% increase compared to the same period last year. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2023, there is only a 1% increase. Particularly, the construction sector (626), trade (613), and hospitality (519) were heavily affected, experiencing the most bankruptcies. At the provincial level, the highest number of bankruptcies occurred mainly in Antwerp (14%), Brussels (12.5%), and Liège (8%).

Risks are inevitable in 2024

The lagging growth of the American economy may have repercussions for key trading partners of Belgium, such as Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. A potential increase in economic instability in these regions also brings risks for Belgium.

Moreover, the declining entrepreneurial confidence and slight decrease in consumer confidence indicate that the economy has not fully recovered yet. Although the number of bankruptcies seems to have stabilized at pre-pandemic levels, there is no sign of a bankruptcy explosion. The outlook suggests that the current level is expected to be maintained during the upcoming quarter," explains Barry De Goeij, data expert at Altares Dun & Bradstreet.

View the full report (in Dutch) here.

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Shirley Chih

Marketing & Communications Officer

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