# weighted-average cost flow assumption definition and meaning

If Corner Bookstore sells the textbook for \$110, its gross profit using the periodic average method will be \$22 (\$110 – \$88). This gross profit of \$22 lies between the \$25 computed using the periodic FIFO and the \$20 computed using the periodic LIFO. Let’s take a quick look at each cost flow assumption using the periodic method, and then we’ll apply what we have learned to the perpetual method.

• Many U.S. companies have switched their cost flow assumption from FIFO to the LIFO because they were experiencing rising costs.
• Two such generally accepted methods, known as cost flow assumptions, are discussed next.
• This is because, in today’s economy, rising prices are more common than falling prices.
• If you run a just-in-time inventory management system or purchase and sell your entire inventory in a given accounting period, your choice in cost flow assumption doesn’t matter.

That’s why businesses use one of three cost assumptions to estimate inventory value. In this case, the ending inventory to be presented in the balance sheet is \$27,431.69 and the COGS to be presented in the income statement is \$38,568.31. The less inventory you keep on hand, the closer your average cost of inventory will be to the current price of inventory. You’ll see that the actual price at this time is \$170 and yet the average cost is only \$90. We still have to pay \$170 per unit to suppliers even though our costing is at \$90.

## LO2 – Explain the impact on financial statements of inventory cost flows and errors.

It would be really hard to use specific identification with oils and other fungible items. However, there is no rule that says you have to use a cost flow assumption that matches the physical flow of goods. There were 5 books available for sale for the year 2022 and the cost of the goods available was \$440. The weighted average cost of the books is \$88 (\$440 of cost of goods available ÷ 5 books).

• The \$85 cost that was assigned to the book sold is permanently gone from inventory.
• With perpetual FIFO, the first (or oldest) costs are the first removed from the Inventory account and debited to the Cost of Goods Sold account.
• This often occurs in the electronics industry as new and more popular products are introduced.
• In the LIFO system, the weighted average system, and the perpetual system, each sale moves the weighted average, so it is a moving weighted average for each sale.
• The FIFO method assumes that the oldest inventory units are sold first, while the LIFO method assumes that the most recent inventory units are sold first.

Let’s first enter our beginning inventory balances in the first line of the subsidiary ledger. Below is a graph depicting the actual price of inventory vs the computed average cost. Our original example using units assumed there was no opening inventory at June 1, 2023 and that purchases were made as follows. The lower of cost and net realizable value can be applied to individual inventory items or groups of similar items, as shown in Figure 6.15 below.

## First In, First Out (FIFO) Cost

If you want to learn more about it, read our QuickBooks Online review for a comprehensive analysis. Read this section, which focuses on the four inventory costing methods and the impact each has on the financial statements. It is important to understand the impact of inventory valuation on your own company, and the companies that you partner with, sell to, buy from, and invest in.

## Alternatives to FIFO for Determining Cost of Goods Sold

As purchase prices change, particular inventory methods will assign different cost of goods sold and resulting ending inventory to the financial statements. Specific identification achieves the exact matching of revenues and costs while weighted average accomplishes an averaging of price changes, or smoothing. The use of FIFO results in the current cost of inventory appearing on the balance sheet in ending inventory. The cost flow method in use must be disclosed in the notes to the financial statements and be applied consistently from period to period.

## Why should I use average cost method?

As discussed in Chapter 5, any discrepancies identified by the physical inventory count are adjusted for as shrinkage. First-in, first-out (FIFO) assumes that the first goods purchased are the first ones sold. A FIFO cost flow assumption makes sense when inventory consists of perishable items such as groceries and other time-sensitive goods. how to add expenses and receipts to an invoice is also called “the weighted average cost flow assumption.” To calculate the weighted average cost of bats, we are going to toss them all together like a baseball bat salad, so we don’t need any color coding.

In this case, we would assume that the 12 bats left in our store at the end of the year were the eight we bought on the 15th of December and four of the bats we bought on the 15th of November. In order to put this principle in context, let’s take a simple example and apply each of the four examples in turn. We’ll assume that NewCo Sporting Goods has decided to start selling baseball bats in October, starting with a model called the Slugger, and that the company made three purchases, listed in the table below. In either case, the average cost will provide figures between those of FIFO and LIFO. For example, according to the Safeway annual report, the application of the LIFO inventory method reduced gross profits by \$29.3 million in 2019. This is a substantial figure, considering that Safeway’s net income for 2020 was \$185.0 million.

For example, a grocery retailer selling perishable merchandise may want to use FIFO, as it is common practice to place the oldest items at the front of the rack to encourage their sale first. Alternatively, consider a hardware store that sells bulk nails that are scooped from a bin. There is no way to identify the individual items specifically, and it is likely that over time, customers scooping out nails would mix together items stocked at different times. Weighted average costing would make the most sense in this case, as this would likely represent the real movement of the product. For a company selling heavy equipment, specific identification would likely make the most sense, as each item would be unique with its own serial number, and these items can be easily tracked. A weighted average cost flow is assumed when goods purchased on different dates are mixed with each other.

Goods available for sale, units sold, and units in ending inventory are the same regardless of which method is used. Because each cost flow method allocates the cost of goods available for sale in a particular way, the cost of goods sold and ending inventory values are different for each method. In Figure 6.5, the inventory at the end of the accounting period is one unit. This is the number of units on hand according to the accounting records. A physical inventory count must still be done, generally at the end of the fiscal year, to verify the quantities actually on hand.

This gives businesses a better representation of the costs of goods sold. Also, the weighted average cost method takes into consideration fluctuations in the cost of inventory. It does this by averaging the cost of inventory over the respective period.

## LO3 – Explain and calculate lower of cost and net realizable value inventory adjustments.

As before, we need to account for the cost of goods available for sale (5 books having a total cost of \$440). With FIFO we assign the first cost of \$85 to be the cost of goods sold. The remaining \$355 (\$440 – \$85) will be the cost of the ending inventory. The \$85 cost that was assigned to the book sold is permanently gone from inventory. Finally, weighted average cost provides a clearer position of the costs of goods sold, as it takes into account all of the inventory units available for sale.

The difference between cost of goods available for sale and cost of goods sold is the estimated value of ending inventory. An error in calculating either the quantity or the cost of ending inventory will misstate reported income for two time periods. Assume merchandise inventory at December 31, 2021, 2022, and 2023 was reported as \$2,000 and that merchandise purchases during each of 2022 and 2023 were \$20,000.

Losses resulting from theft and error can easily be determined when the actual quantity of goods on hand is counted and compared with the quantities shown in the inventory records as being on hand. It may seem that this advantage is offset by the time and expense required to continuously update inventory records, particularly where there are thousands of different items of various sizes on hand. Companies have several methods at their disposal to roughly figure out which costs are removed from a company’s inventory and reported as COGS. This particular approach takes an average of the cost of items sold, leading to a mid-range COGs figure. This means the average cost at the time of the sale was \$87.50 ([\$85 + \$87 + \$89 + \$89] ÷ 4). Because this is a perpetual average, a journal entry must be made at the time of the sale for \$87.50.

In times of rising prices, LIFO (especially LIFO in a periodic system) produces the lowest ending inventory value, the highest cost of goods sold, and the lowest net income. Therefore, many companies in the United States use LIFO even if the method does not accurately reflect the actual flow of merchandise through the company. The Internal Revenue Service accepts LIFO as long as the same method is used for financial reporting purposes.