A trade discount is a reduction to the published price of a product. For example, a high-volume wholesaler might be entitled to a 40% trade discount, while a medium-volume wholesaler is given a 30% trade discount. A retail customer will receive no trade discount and will have to pay the published or list price. The use of trade discounts allows for having just one published price for each product.

The sale and purchase will be recorded at the amount after the trade discount is subtracted. For example, when goods with list prices totaling $1,000 are sold to a wholesale customer entitled to a 30% trade discount, both the seller and the buyer will record the transaction at the net amount of $700.

Trade discounts are different from early-payment discounts. (Early-payment discounts of 1% or 2% are likely to be recorded by the seller as a sales discount and by the buyer using the periodic inventory method as a purchase discount.)

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