The landscape of inventory tracking has been transformed by technological advancements, which have introduced a plethora of tools that enhance accuracy and efficiency. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, for example, has become a game-changer. Unlike traditional barcodes, RFID tags do not require line-of-sight scanning. This means that inventory can be tracked as it moves through the supply chain, providing real-time updates without manual intervention. The data collected through RFID can be used to optimize inventory levels, reduce shrinkage, and improve overall supply chain transparency. Companies can choose among several methods to account for the cost of inventory held for sale, but the total inventory cost expensed is the same using any method.

Perpetual vs. Periodic Inventory Systems

If the physical valuation of the stock is done more than once in a year, then this system can also cost higher. Discrepancies can be detected only at the end of the accounting period. While each inventory system has its own advantages and disadvantages, the more popular system is the perpetual inventory system.

  1. Imagine owning an office supply store and trying to count and record every ballpoint pen in stock.
  2. FitTees sold 1,200 units of designer shirts and 800 units of jeans at $35 each to WP Clothing, a reseller in California.
  3. A purchase return or allowance under perpetual inventory systems updates Merchandise Inventory for any decreased cost.
  4. It provides a highly detailed view of changes in inventory with immediate reporting of the amount of inventory in stock, and it accurately reflects the level of goods on hand.

Periodic Inventory vs. Perpetual Inventory

The major benefit of having multiple ledgers is that you can keep track of inventory balances and COGS throughout the year. Moreover, you aren’t required to perform frequent inventory counts because perpetual records always provide the latest information. Businesses can choose to use either a perpetual period periodic inventory system to calculate their cost of goods sold (COGS). A periodic inventory system calculates the COGS following a physical inventory count at period-end, whereas a perpetual inventory system calculates the COGS after each sale.

Tech Advancements in Inventory Tracking

There are several ways that companies can account for their inventory. This accounting method requires a physical count of inventory at specific times, such as at the end of the quarter or fiscal year. This means that a company using this system tracks the inventory on hand at the beginning and end of that specific accounting period. The inventory isn’t tracked on a regular basis or when sales are executed. The periodic inventory system also allows companies to determine the cost of goods sold. The periodic and perpetual inventory systems are different methods used to track the quantity of goods on hand.


One of the main differences between these two types of inventory systems involves the companies that use them. Smaller businesses and those with low sales volumes may be better off using the periodic system. In these cases, inventories are small enough that they are easy to manage using manual counts.

Perpetual Inventory System vs. Periodic Inventory System: What’s the Difference?

Manufacturers must strategically choose periodic or perpetual inventory accounting to manage this material efficiently and keep from adding unnecessary internal costs. Below are the journal entries that Rider Inc. (the sporting goods company) makes for its purchase of a bicycle to sell (Model XY-7) if a perpetual inventory system is explain what the continuity assumption is and provide an example of its application utilized. A separate subsidiary ledger file (such as shown previously) is also established to record the quantity and cost of the specific items on hand. Companies would normally use a periodic inventory system if they sell a small quantity of goods and/or if they don’t have enough employees to conduct a perpetual inventory count.

Periodic inventory vs. perpetual inventory: What’s the difference?

Using such tools allows employees to update inventory stocks as and when they’re received in the warehouses. Inventory management system should be by the store’s 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. Under the LIFO Method, cost of goods sold is calculated using the most recent inventory first and then working our way backwards until the sales order has been filled.

To determine your business’s profitability, you’ll need to know how much you spent to produce, ship, store, and manage the inventory you’ve sold. During the physical count, FitTees found that there are 225 units of designer shirts and 354 units of jeans on hand. “Dollar stores,” which have become particularly prevalent in recent years, sell large quantities of low-priced merchandise. Goods tend to be added to a store’s inventory as they become available rather than based on any type of managed inventory strategy. Again, officials must decide whether keeping up with the inventory on hand will impact their decision making. FitTees sold 700 units of designer shirts and 900 units of jeans at $39 each.

Under the perpetual method, cost of goods sold is calculated and recorded with every sale. Under the periodic inventory method, cost of goods sold is calculated at the end of the period only and recorded in one entry. The choice between perpetual and periodic inventory systems depends on the size, complexity, and nature of your small business.

Under the periodic system, new inventory purchases will be recorded into the inventory account after receiving. The cost of goods sold will be calculated by deducting the ending balance. This method, known as the periodic inventory system, is not as prominent as it once was due to technological advances in accounting software.

A periodic inventory system updates and recordsthe inventory account at certain, scheduled times at the end of anoperating cycle. The update and recognition could occur at the endof the month, quarter, and year. There is a gap between the sale orpurchase of inventory and when the inventory activity isrecognized. A perpetual inventory system automaticallyupdates and records the inventory account every time a sale, orpurchase of inventory occurs.

The difference between the methods is the timing of when the inventory cost is recognized, and the cost of inventory sold is posted to the cost of sales expense account. To calculate inventory, companies need to set up a system where every piece of inventory is entered into the system and deducted from the system as it’s sold. This requires the use of point-of-sale terminals, barcode scanners, and perpetual inventory software to update estimated inventory with every product purchase and sale. Perpetual inventory systems track sales constantly and immediately with computerized point-of-sale technology. Periodic inventory systems only track sales when a physical count is ordered and require a point-in-time count.

There is a gap between the sale or purchase of inventory and when the inventory activity is recognized. A periodic inventory system updates and records the inventory account at certain, scheduled times at the end of an operating cycle. Inventory management is a critical component of business operations, directly impacting financial health and supply chain efficiency.

This distinction can influence the timing of expense recognition and, consequently, the business’s reported profitability within a given period. A perpetual inventory system maintains a continuous tally of transactions, making the COGS available at any time. By contrast, a periodic inventory system calculates the COGS only after conducting a physical inventory. When a company sells products in a perpetual inventory system, the expense account increases and grows the cost of goods sold (COGS). COGS represents production costs and expenses during a specific period. This includes the materials and labor costs but not distribution or sales expenses.

The ability to have real-time data to make decisions, the constant update to inventory, and the integration to point-of-sale systems, outweigh the cost and time investments needed to maintain the system. 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.

Employees can use perpetual inventory data to provide more accurate customer service regarding availability of products, replacement parts, and other physical components. Not only must an adjustment to Merchandise Inventory occur at the end of a period, but closure of temporary merchandising accounts to prepare them for the next period is required. Temporary accounts requiring closure are Sales, Sales Discounts, Sales Returns and Allowances, and Cost of Goods Sold. Sales will close with the temporary credit balance accounts to Income Summary. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) do not state a required inventory system, but the periodic inventory system uses a Purchases account to meet the requirements for recognition under GAAP.

The Cost of Goods Sold is reported on the Income Statement under the perpetual inventory method. At the end of the period, a perpetual inventory system will havethe Merchandise Inventory account up-to-date; the only thing leftto do is to compare a physical count of inventory to what is on thebooks. A physical inventory count requirescompanies to do a manual “stock-check” of inventory to make surewhat they have recorded on the books matches what they physicallyhave in stock.

There are morechances for shrinkage, damaged, or obsolete merchandise becauseinventory is not constantly monitored. Since there is no constantmonitoring, it may be more difficult to make in-the-moment businessdecisions about inventory needs. Table6.1 There are severaldifferences in account recognition between the perpetual andperiodic inventory systems.

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