Average Collection Period

The average collection period is one of the activity ratios which measures the relationship between accounts receivable and average credit sales per day. Activity ratios help businesses to measure how efficiently various accounts are converted into sales or cash. Other activity ratios include average payment period, total asset turnover and inventory turnover analysis.

It calculates how efficiently accounts receivable are collected. It indicates the quality of debtors of the business (how promptly debtors pay their bills as they come due). It is also referred to as the average age of accounts receivable, debtors collection period ratio or a collection ratio.

The formula to calculate the average collection period ratio is as follows:

Average Collection Period = Accounts receivable/Average sales per day

The figure for accounts receivable is obtained from the balance sheet and the figure for sales is obtained from the income statement. Sales must be further adjusted to credit sales, by excluding cash sales. Further, credit sales must be divided by the number of days per year to finally obtain average sales per day (average credit sales per day).

Average sales per day = Credit sales/365

Example calculation

Assume Heroic Company has accounts receivable of $750,000 and credit sales of $4,050,000. Heroic Company has credit terms of 30 days. Assume 365 days year.

The average collection period of Heroic Company is calculated as follows:

Average sales per day = Credit sales/365

= $4,050,000/365

= $11,095.89

Average collection period = $750,000/$11,095.89=67.6 days = 68 days.

It takes on average 68 days to collect the accounts receivable. However, the credit terms of Heroic Company is 30 days. This means that company’s customers have 30 days to settle their accounts.

In light of this information, it is evident that collection of accounts receivable and/or process of granting the credit to customers is inadequately managed. The performance and processes of credit and collection departments should be investigated to draw further conclusions.

Things to note about this ratio

Results are only relevant when compared to a company’s credit terms.

The average collection period ratio therefore allows business to gain a better understanding of the cash inflows to be anticipated. Understanding of cash inflows are vital for successful operation of the business.

It also allows to identify trends in the collection of the accounts receivable. This can bring to management’s attention important variables that must be investigated to ensure successful operation of the business. For example, if the average collection period of the business increased from 30 to 68 days over 1 year, a further investigation will be required to understand such a large increase in this ratio.

Furthermore, to obtain a better understanding, one should compare the average collection period ratio to industry averages, to the ratio of leading firms in the industry and to the firms own historical results.



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