Late payments meant small and medium-sized (SME) hotel and restaurant businesses lost out on £159m last year.
The Factors and Discounters Association (FDA) has calculated that the average bill is settled in 46 days - 16 days over the 30-day settlement period recommended by the Government.
Overall, the extra 16 days of non-payment cost hospitality SMEs £159m in lost interest and pushed them a further £2.6b into debt for the year - the equivalent of £7.2m a day.
"Despite Government initiatives to speed up payments of invoices, the level of debt that UK SMEs have to carry is staggering," said Kate Sharp, chief executive of the FDA.
"If companies were paid on time then they would have more cash to fund growth and therefore make more money. Late payment is bad for business."
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 2 December 2004