# Periodic Inventory System: Methods and Calculations

In this example, we also say that the physical inventory counted 590 units of their product at the end of the period, or Jan. 31. We use the same table (inventory card) for this example as in the periodic FIFO example. This means that the periodic average cost is calculated after the year is over—after all the purchases for the year have occurred. This average cost is then applied to the units sold during the year and to the units in inventory at the end of the year.

In a perpetual system, you immediately enter the new pallet in the software so the system can track its life in your business. When there is a loss, theft or breakage, you should also immediately record these updates. Periodic means that the Inventory account is not updated during the accounting period.

## Periodic Inventory System: Is It the Right Choice?

A small company with a low number of SKUs would use a periodic system when they aren’t concerned about scaling their business over time. Depending on your products and needs, you could also use a periodic system in concert with a perpetual system. Periodic inventory works for businesses that don’t need to accurately know current inventory levels on a daily basis. Growing businesses and larger businesses need more detailed inventory tracking and typically choose a perpetual inventory system, which is best managed using an ERP inventory module.

Organizations use estimates for mid-year markers, such as monthly and quarterly reports. Accountants do not update the general ledger account inventory when their company purchases goods to be resold. The accountant removes the balance to another account at the end of the year. Since the specific identification method, identifies exactly which cost the purchase comes from it does not change under perpetual or periodic.

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This is simple when the products are large items, such as cars or luxury technology goods, because the company must give each unit a unique identification number or tag. The company makes a physical count at the end of each accounting period to find the number of units in ending inventory. The company then applies first-in, first-out (FIFO) method to compute the cost of ending inventory. The first should record the sale value by debiting the accounts receivable account and crediting the sales account. The second should record the cost of goods sold by debiting the cost of goods sold account and crediting the inventories account. Properly managing inventory can make or break a business, and having insight into your stock is crucial to success.

• One big negative, however, is that you are only collecting minimal information, usually just a discrete product count.
• Periodic means that the Inventory account is not updated during the accounting period.
• They can quickly count the goods they are working with, whereas a perpetual system, which provides a more accurate inventory, requires training staff on electronic scanners and data entry.
• Thus, the cost of goods sold totals \$37,765,000, and the ending inventory account balance is \$7,310,000.

The main benefits of employing a periodic inventory system are the ease of implementation, its lower cost and the decrease in staffing needed to run it. Simple counts on legal paper can suffice for collecting product data, especially if you only offer a few goods. A basic count during the day or week is often enough for a small business to get an adequate handle on their inventory. This means there is no need for expensive or complicated equipment, just essential information collection tools – pen and paper.

## Perpetual FIFO

Implementing a perpetual system earlier in the company’s inception enables staff to have a long-term record of the inventory and also keeps the business from growing out of a periodic system one day. A perpetual system can scale, so whether you have five products (today) or 200 products (tomorrow), a perpetual system can effectively manage inventory control. The ongoing information also helps businesses keep more granular information on cost per item sold, which is a major factor in profit margins and overall profitability. For large businesses or growing businesses, operating with a periodic inventory system is akin to operating your business with blinders.

• Depending on your products and needs, you could also use a periodic system in concert with a perpetual system.
• In a perpetual system, you immediately enter the new pallet in the software so the system can track its life in your business.
• A perpetual system tracks every transaction as it happens, including purchases and sales.
• Companies make any necessary adjustments from purchasing goods to a general ledger contra account.
• You can also use a periodic system if you have a handle on your supply chain process, sell a few products and have eyes on your goods as they flow through your business.

When we sell identical goods, we can choose from several inventory costing methods when calculating Cost of Goods Sold and Ending Inventory. Learn more about how you can manage inventory automatically, reduce handling costs and increase cash flow. Let’s say our product manager, Cristina, wants to know if she is pricing her company’s generic Bismuth subsalicylate high enough to leave a healthy profit margin. If she calculates the COGS as \$10 per 100-mL bottle, she will need to price each bottle higher than \$10 so her company can comfortably turn a profit. Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years. At the end of the year 2016, the company makes a physical measure of material and finds that 1,700 units of material is on hand.