Inventory Turnover: Retail, Cost, or Unit?

Periodically I have students who are confused by the idea that there is not one, but three different ways to calculate inventory turnover.  What really confuses them is that when using all three formulas to calculate inventory turnover (turn) for a retailer, each formula provides a different answer.  And, that this happens even though each formula has the same two basic components:  Sales and Average Inventory.

Let’s start with the formulas:
Retail Turnover = Annual Retail Sales/Average Retail Inventory
Cost Turnover = Cost of Goods Sold/ Average Cost Inventory
Unit Turnover = Unit Sales/ Average Unit Inventory

Example:

Retailer Z’s Financials Show:

Total Retail Sales $2,000,000
Cost of Goods Sold $1,200,000
Unit Sales 180,000
Avg. Inventory at Retail $400,000
Avg. Inventory at Cost $220,000
Avg. Inventory in Units 30,000

Let’s Calculate!
Retail Turnover = Average Retail Sales/Average Retail Inventory
= $2,000,000/$400,000  = 5.0

Cost Turnover = Cost of Goods Sold/ Average Cost Inventory
= $1,200,000/$220,000 = 5.5

Unit Turnover = Unit Sales / Average Unit Inventory
= 90,000/ 15,000 = 6.0

While the inputs are similar, they are not identical, due to each one utilizing a different method of measurement.  Typically Retail Turnover will provide you with the most conservative estimate of your turn rate out of the three calculations.  This is due to the fact that the Retail Sales and Average Retail Inventory numbers both have initial margin (or markups) built into them.

Next time we’ll look at interpreting and using these numbers.

2 thoughts on “Inventory Turnover: Retail, Cost, or Unit?

  1. mark

    Hi Nicole ,

    i have small question .

    as per your formula below .

    Cost Turnover = Cost of Goods Sold/ Average Cost Inventory
    = $1,200,000/$220,000 = 5.5

    I have cost turnover , when its come to average cost of inventory can i take the (Ending inventory @ cost ) .

    Mark

    Reply
    1. Nicole_Cox Post author

      Hi Mark,

      The answer is both yes and no. If you have no means of finding or calculating average cost of inventory, then you could substitute ending inventory at cost. However, this is definitely not an ideal solution.

      I hope this helps,
      Nicole

      Reply

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