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Average Collection Period


The Average Collection Period is a financial metric that indicates the average time a company takes to collect its receivables or the time it takes for a customer to pay off its obligations to the company. It’s calculated by dividing the accounts receivable during a certain period by the net credit sales during the same period, then multiplying by the number of days in the period. In essence, it’s a measure of a firm’s effectiveness in managing its credit issued to customers.


The phonetics of “Average Collection Period” is:- Average: /ˈæv.ər.ɪdʒ/- Collection: /kəˈlek.ʃən/- Period: /ˈpɪər.i.əd/

Key Takeaways

1. Average Collection Period Definition:

The average collection period, also known as the days’ sales in receivables, is a measure of a firm’s effectiveness in managing its receivables. It represents the average number of days it takes a company to convert its receivables into cash.

2. Implication:

A shorter average collection period typically indicates that a business collects cash from its credit customers more quickly, which can be a sign of efficient receivables management. Conversely, a longer average collection period could imply a business has lenient credit policies or ineffective collection processes, potentially leading to cash flow problems.

3. Calculation:

Average Collection Period is calculated by dividing the accounts receivable by the total net sales, then multiplying by the total number of days in the period. It can provide useful insights into a company’s credit and collection policies, as well as how well it is managing its cash flow.


The Average Collection Period is a crucial metric in business and finance as it gauges the efficiency of a company’s credit and collection policies. It evaluates how long, on average, customers take to settle their dues. This measure helps businesses understand their cash flow dynamics better. For instance, a longer collection period could signify ineffective collection procedures or credit policies that are too lenient, leading to potential cash flow problems due to tied up capital. Conversely, a shorter period may indicate a rigorous collection process and favorable credit terms, enabling quick conversion of sales into cash. Therefore, this measure provides valuable insights for financial decision-making and strategic planning.


The Average Collection Period is a significant financial metric for businesses as it serves the purpose of indicating the effectiveness of a company’s credit and collection policies. This figure essentially represents the average amount of time a business takes to receive payments from its customers after a sale has been made on credit. For a company, understanding the Average Collection Period is essential in managing its cash flow efficiently, ensuring solvency, and assessing its overall financial health.Companies use this metric as a benchmark to understand if they are collecting receivables too slowly, which could pose liquidity problems, or too fast, which might indicate stringent credit policies that could drive customers away. By continuously monitoring the Average Collection Period, businesses can make informed and timely strategies for their credit policies and collection procedures—this could mean adjusting payment terms, offering early payment discounts, or investing in collection efforts. It’s a critical tool for cash flow management and thus, fundamental to the financial sustainability of a business.


1. Small Business Example: If a small boutique sells its products to a number of retailers and has extended them a credit period of 30 days. However, if the average time the retailers are taking to pay their dues is 40 days, the boutique’s average collection period is 40 days. In this case, the boutique might consider revising its credit policy or follow up mechanisms to ensure timely payment and improve its cash flows.2. Manufacturing Company Example: ACME Corp, a large manufacturing company, sells its products to a chain of wholesalers. ACME Corp offers credit terms of 60 days to its customers but notices that most customers take around 70 days to pay off their accounts receivable. This means ACME Corp’s average collection period is 70 days. This might trigger an evaluation of the company’s credit policies.3. Telecommunication Provider Example: A telecommunication company offers postpaid plans to its customers and expects payments within a period of 30 days after the billing cycle. However, looking over the accounts, they realize that on average customers make payments after 35 days, indicating an average collection period of 35 days. This might force the company to reassess its follow-up and penalty protocols to ensure more timely payments from its customers.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Average Collection Period?

The Average Collection Period is a financial metric that signifies how long on average it takes for a company to receive payments owed by its customers in terms of receivables. It is commonly used to assess the effectiveness of a company’s credit and collection policies.

How is the Average Collection Period calculated?

The Average Collection Period is calculated by dividing the Accounts Receivable by the total net credit sales during a given period, and then multiplying the result by the number of days in that period.

Why is the Average Collection Period important?

The Average Collection Period is important as it can provide insight into the company’s cash flow management. A shorter collection period implies that the company collects on its credit sales faster, which improves cash flow.

What is an ideal Average Collection Period?

An ideal Average Collection Period varies by industry and business model. However, generally, a shorter collection period is considered favorable.

What happens if a company’s Average Collection Period is too high?

If a company’s Average Collection Period is significantly higher than industry norms, it implies that the company could be granting credit too freely or struggling to collect payments. This may lead to potential cash flow problems.

Can the Average Collection Period be used to compare companies?

Yes, the Average Collection Period can be used to compare companies within the same industry. However, differences in credit policies and industry norms should be considered.

How can a company improve its Average Collection Period?

Strategies that a company can use to improve its Average Collection Period include tightening credit policies, more stringent credit checks, offering discounts for early payments, and implementing collection automation tools.

What is the difference between a company’s Average Collection Period and Its Credit Terms?

The Average Collection Period represents how long it typically takes a company to receive payments for credit sales. The Credit Terms, on the other hand, define the agreed-upon time frame in which the customer should pay the invoice. If the Average Collection Period is significantly longer than the credit terms, it could signal a collection or cash flow issue.

Related Finance Terms

  • Accounts Receivable
  • Credit Sales
  • Debt Collection
  • Cash Flow
  • Payment Terms

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