Perpetual Inventory System Vs Periodic Inventory System

Investigating Transactions In Perpetual And Periodic Inventory System

Inventory Systems: Perpetual vs Periodic

When it comes to a periodic system, the transactions are not log in a unit level. As a result, it is quite challenging to investigate the transactions that are linked with mistakes in the inventory. However, a perpetual system would record every transaction per inventory unit, which helps you with understanding the errors.

How Can You Choose The Right Inventory System For Your Company

To effectively manage your company’s inventory, it’s important to select an inventory system that best fits your business’ needs. If you work for a smaller company, you may want to consider using a periodic inventory system since you don’t have as many products to count. This can help you save money that you can better use elsewhere.

In comparison, a perpetual inventory system is the best choice for bigger companies that need to manage large amounts of many different products at one time. This can help you collect more accurate data and find inventory errors more easily.

Another thing to consider is whether inventory is a major component of your industry. For instance, if you sell services more than products, you may not need a complex inventory management system. You might be able to count the inventory you do have more easily than if your company only sold products.

Pros And Cons Of Periodic Inventory Systems

As periodic inventory is as old as history itself, it isalso quite primitive. Even though it is a reasonable choice for companies juststarting out, it has some disadvantages that could become issues in the longrun.


  • Sufficient for companies with low volumes


  • Ultimately complex due to manual entries and calculations
  • Prone to human error
  • Up-to-date only periodically, immediately after a stocktake
  • The bigger the inventory, the bigger the risk of discrepancies
  • Vulnerable to stockouts
  • Takes more time to properly implement
  • Still needs an occasional stocktake

With a perpetual inventory system, getting an up-to-date profit and loss statement is a matter of a few clicks.

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Perpetual Vs Periodic: How To Select The Right Method For Your Business

Its easy to see why periodic inventory would be cumbersome for big businesses. It would not be cost effective for to count every Kindle, James Patterson book, or even jumbo pack of toilet paper in its warehouses once a month to calculate inventory.

It also wouldnt make sense for small businesses that sell their inventory as a side project to use perpetual inventory. An appliance repair company selling two or three used refrigerators per month has no need to invest in an expensive point-of-sale system.

Most businesses are somewhere between these two extremes. If inventory is a key component of your business, and you need to manage it daily or weekly to make new orders and keep up with demand, use perpetual inventory accounting.

If you dont need that sort of timeliness and can take the time each month to count inventory, go with periodic.

The decision is not black and white. Businesses that account for inventory periodically likely use the FIFO method to sell older units first. Retailers that use the perpetual system often make it a practice to count inventory to make adjustments for shrinkage.

At my father’s box plant, inventory was counted twice a year. When I worked at a restaurant in high school, key items were counted every single night.

Advantages Of Perpetual Inventory

9.3 Periodic vs Perpetual inventory system

Proactive Monitoring of Inventory Turnover

By tracking inventory turnover in real-time, perpetual inventory makes it possible to order more stock as soon as you get low. This is especially helpful if you practice just-in-time inventory.

Manage Multiple Locations with Ease

Perpetual inventory gathers all data into one centralized inventory management system making it easy to operate multiple locations and stores while tracking the inventory for all of them.

More Informed Forecasting

Perpetual inventory can generate reports on buying patterns throughout the year which allows you to forecast demand spikes and slow periods while optimizing your supply chain around the purchasing habits of your customers.

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What Is Periodic Inventory

Periodic inventory uses occasional inventory counts to determine the level of inventory on hand. The measurement period can be any number of set timeframes such as monthly, quarterly, or even yearly. Many companies use quarterly internal inventories throughout the year with an audited inventory at the end of the year to validate their numbers. The final measurements against the cost of goods sold can impact financial statements, taxes, stock reporting to investors, and more.

COGS is a crucial component in the periodic inventory equation. Once COGS is completed, subtraction of COGS from sales for the measured period equals gross margins. This formula means that inventory is a direct component of margins. The formula for this is:

Inventory Beginning Balance + Purchases Ending Inventory Cost = Cost of Goods Sold

How To Choose Between Periodic And Perpetual Inventory Method

Retailers might have heard about the periodic and perpetual method in the process of tracking inventory. Choosing one system seems like an inconsequential decision but it can have a significant impact. Which is how easy and accurate the inventory management is.

If a retail business can not keep an eye on the number of available products, they may have to face overstocking, excess warehouse cost, and the inability to forecast new trends. Besides, poor inventory management leads to customer dissatisfaction because of delivery delays and outdated products. In todays article, we will present with you the two systems to track inventory – periodic and perpetual. We’ll also show you how to choose a well-fitted method with your store.


  • The bottom line,
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    Stop Overstocking And Understocking

    Any items that are slow movers are costing you money and taking up space in your warehouse that could be used for your money makers. And when your products stock out, you are at risk of losing a sale or even lowering customer loyalty.

    Use your real-time tracking to get accurate inventory information and achieve inventory balance as soon as possible. With accurate inventory details, you can tweak pricing, marketing, and more, to help achieve the best results.

    Example Lifo Periodic Vs Lifo Perpetual:

    Periodic vs Perpetual Inventory Accounting

    The Fine Dealings Inc. has the following transactions for the first month of operations:

    The Fine Dealings Inc. uses last-in, first out method for inventory valuation purposes. There was no inventory in hand at the beginning of the month of July.

    Required: Compute the cost of goods sold during the month and inventory in hand at the end of the month under:

  • LIFO periodic system.
  • a. Cost of goods sold:

    Number of units sold during the month: 12,000 units + 6,000 units + 5,000 units = 23,000 units

    Under periodic LIFO, the cost of above 23,000 units have been computed below:

    b. Cost of ending inventory:

    Ending inventory = Beginning inventory + Number of units purchased during the month Number of units sold during the month= 0 units + *40,000 units **23,000 units= 17,000 units

    * Units purchased during the month: 10,000 units + 15,000 units + 5,000 units + 10,000 units = 40,000 units** Units sold during the month: 12,000 units + 6,000 units + 5,000 units = 23,000 units

    . LIFO perpetual

    Cost of goods sold and ending inventory:

    *Cost of goods sold **Cost of ending inventory

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    What Is Perpetual Inventory

    Perpetual inventory systems came about in the technological age as computers allowed for tighter tracking of inventory levels. In a perpetual system, digital technology is used to update the inventory as each sale occurs. These adjustments are made automatically, so decision-makers and managers always know the level of inventory on hand.

    COGS is also adjusted for each sale. This means that perpetual inventory and periodic inventory are counting the same way to arrive at gross margin. Still, the perpetual inventory method is more accurate and more reflective of day-to-day reality.

    Which One Should You Choose

    In the battle between the periodic inventory system vs. perpetual inventory system, which one you should opt for, depends on your situation. As discussed above, both perpetual and periodic inventory systems have their pros and cons, and selecting between the two is contingent upon your business.

    However, the underlying fact is that it is not possible to maintain accurate inventory levels without a physical inventory count. 40% of large businesses will work with a perpetual inventory system at separate outlets, but they will use the periodic system at their core.

    Another factor is scalability. If your business has been expanding gradually and regular inventory counts seem confusing, then you can opt for the perpetual inventory system for smooth inventory management.

    For e-commerce sellers, selling on multiple channels, maintaining different warehouses, and looking to go omnichannel, a perpetual inventory system might make life easier.

    However, regardless of the magnitude of your business, you will, at some point, have to carry out a physical inventory count.

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    Should You Choose Periodic Or Perpetual Inventory For Your Business

    Lets make this as simple as possible:

    In the choice between periodic vs perpetual inventory, periodic is better if youre just starting out, sell very few products, or have a small budget.

    Perpetual is better for everyone else.

    And, if your small business starts to grow, youre going to want to switch over to a perpetual inventory management system.

    Periodic inventory is fine in the beginning, but the insights, increased accuracy, and informed decision-making power that comes from perpetual inventory will help you optimize every process in your business something periodic inventory will never be able to do.

    If youre currently using a periodic inventory management system and are ready to experience the benefits of perpetual inventory, then we can help.

    Great Option For Small Business

    Perpetual and Periodic Inventory Systems

    A periodic inventory system is best suited for smaller businesses that dont keep too much stock in their inventory. For such businesses, its easy to perform a physical inventory count. Its also far simpler to estimate the cost of goods sold over designated periods of time.

    That means companies with a high inventory turnover rate, large SKU count, multichannel inventory management needs, or that need real-time data are better suited for alternative methods.

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    Periodic Inventory System Cons

    • You cant get a truly accurate representation of your inventory until the accounting period is over
    • The larger your company grows, the less accurate and useful this system becomes
    • The reliance on physical inventory audits also makes this system more time-consuming the larger you grow
    • Management has less direct control of inventory levels

    Difference Between Perpetual And Periodic Inventory System

    Last updated on by Surbhi S

    The material is an integral part of the production cost, as it is composed of 80% of the total product cost. So every manufacturing concern keeps a track of its inventory purchased, returned and issued during the year, through the inventory record system. The inventory system is of two types: Perpetual Inventory System, in which the movement of the stock is recorded continuously and Periodic Inventory System, which updates the inventory records from time to time only after the physical count of the stock.

    Inventory management system should be by the stores department selected, keeping in mind, the planning and control of stock. Many people utter confusion in understanding the two methods, so here in this article, we provide you all the important differences between the Perpetual and Periodic Inventory system, in tabular form.

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    Fifo Perpetual Inventory Method

    FIFO is a method to account for an inventory in a way that the stock purchased first will be sold first so that the leftover inventory is always the recently purchased inventory. For the perpetual FIFO cost flow assumption, the company records sales as they happen in the ledger. It is a cost flow estimation to evaluate the stocks.

    The significant difference in the ledger in a perpetual inventory method compared to a periodic system is that the balance is a running tally of the value of sold units and the total units.

    The total unit cost transferred over to the balances happens when the stock sold comes in. The value of the stock the company bought will be consistent throughout its lifecycle in the company.

    Below is the example of Inventory card in FIFO perpetual inventory method

    Image Courtesy Accounting For Management

    Perpetual Weighted Average Costing

    Perpetual vs. Periodic Inventory Systems – Whiteboard Wednesday

    In a perpetual weighted average calculation, the company keeps a running tally of the purchases, sales and unit costs. The software recalculates the unit cost after every purchase, showing the current balance of units in stock and the average of their prices. The next sales transaction reflects this newly calculated unit cost. See the same activities from the FIFO and LIFO cards above in the weighted average card below.

    Notice the difference in the unit cost after every purchase. The system recalculates the unit cost and value of total cost based on the average of what is still in stock and what the company has added in their purchase. The ending inventory figure is the last numbers on the card: 1200 units at $7,476.00. Calculate COGS by adding the total costs of what the company sold . COGS = $2,000 + $5,890 + $3,900 = $11,790.

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    Should Your Business Use A Perpetual Inventory System Vs Periodic Inventory System

    Having established the benefits and drawbacks to both inventory systems, the choice of management system largely depends on the size of your business as well as the budgetary allocation for inventory management.

    If you run a smaller business with a limited budget, a periodic system is the most ideal system to operate. However, for larger businesses with more upside and less restriction on supply chain investments, a perpetual inventory system is the more efficient choice.

    When You Should Use Perpetual Inventory Method

    Experts around the world have agreed that a perpetual inventory method is the future of inventory management, and all the large establishments who are looking to grow exponentially and understand margins and profitability should use this method.

    Muller explains, The future of this industry is leaning towards more real-time identification of products and improving on everything having to do with transmitters in and on products. Really, these are automatic forms of identification. It doesnt matter where you store it, you can find it.

    Each time a sale or purchase happens, the perpetual inventory method records those changes into the sales revenue account. This way, the accounting records show accurate balances in the accounts affected.

    Prices charged from the consumers are also reflected in the sheet. In the perpetual inventory method, you should know the purchase price, selling price, and all the accounts affected.

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    The Benefits Of A Periodic Inventory System

    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. It only takes a little time to add a periodic system to your business. 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.

    One big negative, however, is that you are only collecting minimal information, usually just a discrete product count. Further, you do not collect or report this data in real-time. You update stock numbers at distinct periods and not when you buy or sell them. In fact, you will not have much information to go on should you need to track your products from beginning to end or investigate shortfalls or overages. You cant quickly identify the source of issues.

    Other negatives with a periodic system include:

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