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Difference Between Perpetual and Periodic Inventory System:

Learning objectives of this article:

  1. Distinguish between perpetual and periodic inventory system.


Inventory records may be maintained on a perpetual or periodic basis. These two systems are explained below:

Perpetual Inventory System:

Under a perpetual inventory system, a continuous record of changes in inventory is maintained in the inventory accounting. That is, all purchases and sales (issues) of goods are recorded directly in the inventory account as they occur.

The accounting features of a perpetual inventory system are:

  1. Purchases of merchandise for resale or raw materials for production are debited to inventory rather than to purchases.

  2. Freight-in, purchases returns and allowances, and purchase discounts are recorded in inventory rather than in separate accounts.

  3. Cost of goods sold is recognized for each sale by debiting the account cost of goods sold, and crediting inventory.

  4. Inventory is a control account that is supported by a subsidiary ledger of individual inventory records. The subsidiary records show the quantity and cost of each type of inventory on hand.

The perpetual inventory system provides a continuous record of the balances in both the inventory account and the cost of goods sold account.

Under a computerized recordkeeping system, additions to and issuance from inventory can be recorded nearly instantaneously. The popularity and affordability of computerized accounting software have made the perpetual system cost-effective for many kinds of businesses. Recording sales with optical scanners at the cash register has been incorporated into perpetual inventory systems at many retail stores.

Periodic Inventory System:

Under a periodic inventory system, the quantity of inventory on hand is determined, as its name implies, on the periodically. all acquisitions of inventory during the accounting period are recorded by debits to a purchases account. The total in the purchases account at the end of the accounting period added to the cost of the inventory on hand at the beginning of the period to determine the total cost of the goods available for sale during the period. Ending inventory is subtracted from the cost of goods available for sale to compute the cost of goods sold. Note that under a periodic inventory system, the cost of goods sold is a residual amount that is dependent upon a physical count of the ending inventory.

The physical inventory count required by a periodic system is taken once a year at the end of the year. However, most companies need more current information regarding their inventory levels to protect against stock outs or over purchasing and to aid in the preparation of monthly or quarterly financial data. As a consequence, many companies choose a modified perpetual inventory system in which increases and decreases in quantities only - not dollar amounts - are kept in a detailed inventory record.  It is merely a memorandum device outside the double entry system which helps in determining the level of inventory at any point in time.

Whether a company maintains a perpetual inventory in quantities and dollars, quantities only, or has no perpetual inventory record at all, it probably takes a physical inventory once a year. No matter what type of inventory records are in use or how well organized procedures for recording purchases and requisitions, the danger of loss and error is always present. Waste, breakage, theft, improper entry, failure to prepare or record requisitions, and any number of similar possibilities may cause the inventory records to differ from the actual inventory on hand. This requires periodic verification of the inventory records by actual count, weight, or measurement. These counts are compared with the detailed inventory records. The records are corrected to agree with the quantities actually on hand.

Insofar as possible, the physical inventory should be taken near the end of a company's fiscal year so that correct inventory quantities are available for use in preparing annual accounting reports and statements. Because this is not always possible, however, physical inventories taken within two or three months of the year's end are satisfactory, if the detailed inventory records are maintained with a fair degree of accuracy.

Example:

A company had the following transactions during the current year.

Beginning inventory  100 units at $6 = $600
Purchases  900 units at $6 = $5,400
Sales  600 units at $12 = $7,200
Ending inventory  400 units at $6 = $2,400

The entries to record these transactions during the current year are shown below:

Perpetual Inventory System Periodic Inventory System
1. Beginning inventory, 100 units at $6:
The inventory account shows the inventory on hand at $600
2. Purchase 900 units at $6:
Inventory

5,400

     Accounts Payable

5,400

3. Sale of 600 units at $12:
Accounts receivable

7,200

     Sales

7,200

Cost of goods sold

3,600

     Inventory

3,600

4. End of Period Entries for Inventory Accounts:
No entry necessary --
--
--
--
1. Beginning inventory, 100 units at $6:
The inventory account shows the inventory on hand at $600
2. Purchase 900 units at $6:
Purchases 5,400
     Accounts Payable 5,400
3. Sale of 600 units at $12:
Accounts receivable 7,200
     Sales

7,200

No Entry

--
--
4. End of Period Entries for Inventory Accounts:
Inventory (Ending by count) 2,400
Cost of goods sold 3,600
     Purchases 5,400
     Inventory (beginning) 600

When a perpetual inventory system is used and a difference exists between the perpetual inventory balance and physical count, a separate entry is needed to adjust the perpetual inventory account. Assume that at the end of the reporting period, the perpetual inventory account reported an inventory balance of $4,000, but a physical count indicated $3,800 was actually on hand. The entry to record the necessary write-down is as follows:

Inventory over and short 200
     Inventory

200

Perpetual inventory overages and shortages generally represent a misstatement of cost of goods sold. The difference is a result of normal and expected shrinkage, breakage, shoplifting, incorrect record keeping, and the like. Inventory over and short would therefore be adjustment of cost of goods sold. In practice, the account inventory over and short is sometimes reported in the "Other revenues and Gains" or "Other Expenses and Losses" section of the income statement, depending on its balance.

In a periodic inventory system, the account inventory over and short does not arise because there are no accounting records available against which to compare the physical count. Thus, inventory overage and shortages are buried in cost of goods sold.

Relevant Articles:

Classification of Inventory

Difference between Perpetual and Periodic Inventory System
Basic Issues in Inventory Valuation
Average Cost Method
First In First Out (FIFO) Method
Last In First Out (LIFO) Method
LIFO Reserve
LIFO Liquidation
Basis for Selection of Inventory Method

 

 

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

 

Financial Accounting Topics


  Introduction to Accounting
 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Transactions and Accounting Equation
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  Analysis of Business Transactions
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  Journal, Ledger and Trial Balance
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  Accounting for Bills of Exchange
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Special Journals
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  Cash Book
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bank Reconciliation Statement
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  Final Accounts
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Work Sheet
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Capital and Revenue Items
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Valuation of Inventories
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Accounts of Non-profit Making Organizations
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Statement of Cash Flows
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Accounting Ratios Analysis
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  Depreciation, Provisions and Reserves
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Accounting Dictionary
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Financial Calculators
 
 
 
Managerial Accounting Topics

  Financial Statements
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  Cost Volume Profit Relationship
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Variable Costing System
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Materials and Inventory Cost Control
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Activity Based Costing System
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Standard Costing and Variance Analysis
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Balanced Scorecard
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Capital Investment Analysis/Capital Budgeting
 

 

 

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