Accounts receivable are taking longer to collect, especially at small companies, reports Coopers & Lybrand. Twenty-eight percent of 362 CEOs of companies with a median of $7 million in sales and 58 employees surveyed found that the average payment period was a troubling 47 days, forcing businesses to take defensive measures to protect cash flow.

Companies by number of employees

Fewer than 100 100 or more
Have you recently experienced a collection slowdown?
Yes 31% 21%
69 79
How have you responded?
Increased bank savings 33 42
Stretched out payments to suppliers 21 19
Increased credit availability 22 33

Source: Coopers and Lybrand, "Trendsetter Barometer," New York City, March 1992.