New Zealand companies are taking longer to pay their bills according to a credit reporting agency.
Dun Bradstreet says firms took an average of 45.2 days to pay their bills in 2011, almost a day longer than in 2010, and two weeks more than the standard payment term of 30 days.
New Zealand general manager John Scott says a worrying trend is emerging.
More than half of firms were more than a day late in settling their accounts, with 5% more than a month late.
Mr Scott says that reflects state of the economy which is going sideways at best, with not much growth.
He says any growth that is coming through is being deferred because of the delays in rebuilding Christchurch.
Mr Scott says companies employing more than 500 people have effectively taken nearly six days longer to pay than they did this time last year.
He says this is the highest rate for about the past 10 quarters, so these companies are back at the level they were at the beginning of the global financial crisis.
Mr Scott says as a result of that smaller companies, which are the best payers, are waiting for payments to come in which could mean an overall negative spiral.
Dun Bradstreet's report shows the forestry sector was the fastest to pay - averaging 39 days.
The electricity, gas and sanitary services sector was the slowest to pay - taking 53 days to settle accounts.