What is a trade discount?

Definition of Trade Discount

A trade discount is a routine reduction from the regular, established price of a product. The use of trade discounts allows a company to vary the final price based on each customer's volume or status.

Note that trade discounts are different from early-payment discounts. (Early-payment discounts of 1% or 2% are usually recorded by the seller in an account such as Sales Discounts and by the buyer using the periodic inventory method in an account such as Purchase Discounts.) Trade discounts are not recorded in a separate account by either the seller or the buyer.

Example of Trade Discounts

A distributor of merchandise may have a single catalog which displays a single price for each product. However, the distributor allows a trade discount from the catalog price based on each customer's volume. For example, one product may have a catalog price of $100. A casual buyer will be charged $100. However, a reseller will be given a trade discount of 20% from the catalog price, and will be charged $80. Lastly, a registered high-volume wholesaler will be given a trade discount of 27% and will be charged $73.

Recording Sales Having a Trade Discount

The company selling the product (and the buyer of the product) will record the transaction at the amount after the trade discount is subtracted. For example, when goods with list prices totaling $1,000 are sold to a wholesaler that is entitled to a 27% trade discount, both the seller and the buyer will record the transaction at $730. There will not be a general ledger account entitled Trade Discount.

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