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What is inventory change and how is it measured?

Harold Averkamp, CPA, MBA

Definition of Inventory Change

Inventory change is the difference between the amount of last period’s ending inventory and the amount of the current period’s ending inventory.

Under the periodic inventory system, there may also be an income statement account with the title Inventory Change or with the title (Increase) Decrease in Inventory. This account is presented as an adjustment to purchases in determining the company’s cost of goods sold.

Example of Inventory Change

Let’s assume that last year’s ending inventory was $100,000 and the current year’s ending inventory is $115,000. Under the periodic inventory system, this inventory increase of $15,000 could be recorded as a debit of $15,000 to Inventory (thereby increasing the account balance from $100,000 to $115,000, and as a credit of $15,000 to Inventory Change.

Next, assume that the company’s net purchases for the year amounted to a net debit of $300,000. This $300,000 debit and the credit of $15,000 in Inventory Change results in the cost of goods sold of $285,000. The logic is that not all $300,000 of net purchases should be matched against sales since $15,000 of the purchases were added to inventory. (This is an alternative to the method used in introductory accounting textbooks, which is: beginning inventory of $100,000 + net purchases of $300,000 = $400,000 of cost of goods available – ending inventory of $115,000 = cost of goods sold of $285,000.)

Alternatively, if last year’s ending inventory was $100,000 and the current year’s ending inventory is $93,000, there will be a credit to Inventory for $7,000 and a debit to Inventory Change for $7,000. When the debit of $7,000 in the Inventory Change account is combined with the debit of $300,000 in net purchases, the cost of goods sold is $307,000. (The alternative is: beginning inventory of $100,000 + net purchases of $300,000 = cost of goods available of $400,000 – ending inventory of $93,000 = cost of goods sold of $307,000.)

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About the Author

Harold Averkamp

For the past 52 years, Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has
worked as an accounting supervisor, manager, consultant, university instructor, and innovator in teaching accounting online. He is the sole author of all the materials on

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