Inventory Write-Downs 101: Accounting Methods, Causes, & Tips

The allowance method is a more elaborate process since some money is set aside to cover inventory that might lose some or all of its value in the future. Keeping accurate and up-to-date inventory records and making sure the first batch of inventory is sold first can help reduce inventory waste. If SKUs are left unsold in your warehouse for too long, they cross the expiry date and completely lose value. At this point, the expired inventory can no longer be written down but rather “written-off” and counted as a complete loss. Running an online business, it’s important to keep value depreciation in mind when tracking, managing, and reporting on inventory. The current market value of the inventory, or replacement cost, cannot exceed the net realizable value (NRV), nor the NRV adjusted by a normal profit margin.

  • This would be a debit to the cost of goods sold expense and a credit to the reserve for obsolete inventory account.
  • A business cannot avoid having stocked inventory unless the company uses the “Just in Time” inventory strategy.
  • Calculating an inventory write-down requires determining the difference between an asset’s book value and the amount of cash that can be obtained by disposing of the asset in the most optimal manner.
  • Short multiple-choice tests, you may evaluate your comprehension of Inventory Management.

At the start of the year, they had Rs. 10,000 worth of phones, but by the end, Rs. 1,000 worth became old. Inventory write-downs can be a useful tool for managing the stock levels of a business. By recognizing the value of the inventory in a timely manner, businesses can better assess their current financial situation, and make the necessary adjustments to stay on track.

How Does Inventory Write-Down Affect Business?

It is important to note that the write-down of inventory is not the same as a write-off of obsolete or damaged inventory. Due to this, the company ABC’s inventory is worth accounting software for small business $100,000 less than its original cost. Hence, the company ABC decides to write down the value of its inventory to comply with the acceptable accounting standard.

  • Running an online business, it’s important to keep value depreciation in mind when tracking, managing, and reporting on inventory.
  • You might write this in the “inventory write-down expense” or “cost of goods sold” section, depending on how big the change is.
  • In practice, the three most common inventory accounting methods are the FIFO, LIFO and average cost methods.
  • The inventory write-down calculation is an important part of managing a business’s inventory, as it helps the business to manage its assets more efficiently and to maximize the cash available to the business.

It is one of the most important assets of a business operation, as it accounts for a huge percentage of a sales company’s revenues. Inventory write-down can be recorded as part of the cost of goods sold (COGS) on the income statement or as a separate expense. Moreover, financial ratios like (current ratio, gross profit, net profits, inventory turnover, and days of inventory on hand) which help measure a company’s financial health, are impacted by an inventory write-down. This can be done by subtracting the cost of goods sold from the total cost of the inventory. The next step is to determine the amount of cash that can be obtained by disposing of the inventory. Depending on the circumstances, the write-down amount may be fully or partially offset by the company’s income.

Double Entry Bookkeeping

In a modern, computerized inventory tracking system, the system generates most of these transactions for you, so the precise nature of the journal entries is not necessarily visible. Nonetheless, you may find a need for some of the following entries from time to time, to be created as manual journal entries in the accounting system. Once you charge the losses to expense, your financial statements will reflect the lower inventory value amount. By using inventory management software, as well as inventory scanners, you can better track expiration dates of stock units and help ensure products that expire the earliest are sold first.

What Is the Effect of an Inventory Write-Down?

By writing down the value of unsellable inventory, businesses can stay honest and responsible in their accounting practices. In our example on inventory write downs, an allowance for obsolete inventory account is created when the value of inventory has to be reduced due to obsolescence. But do you know how to record a cost of goods sold journal entry in your books?

Understanding Inventory Write-Down

Writing off stock as soon as possible allows the business to function better without creating delays for customers and creating additional work for the team within the business. There are, however, times the team may not know about stock that needs to be written off, which is why monthly, or annual stock takes are conducted. Inventory write-offs help guarantee the accuracy of your stock on hand values. Obsolete inventory is inventory that a company still has on hand after it should have been sold. When inventory can’t be sold in the markets, it declines significantly in value and could be deemed useless to the company. Unlike the direct method, this one needs yearly reports on money lost.

The transaction will increase inventory shrinkage which is the expense on income statement. Some companies may use different account names such as inventory loss, inventory damage, and so on. Inventory shrinkage happens when the inventory quantity on the report is less than the actual items. The company must write off the inventory from balance sheet to ensure that is equal to the actual inventory.

First, the accountant needs to determine the size of the inventory’s reduction. If it is relatively small, the accountant can factor the decrease in the company’s cost of goods sold. This is done by crediting the inventory account and debiting the cost of goods sold. Since the amount of the write-down of inventory reduces net income, it will also reduce the amount reported on the balance sheet for owner’s equity or stockholders’ equity. Thus, the balance sheet and the accounting equation will show a reduction in inventory and in owner’s or stockholders’ equity. Under FIFO and average cost methods, if the net realizable value is less than the inventory’s cost, the balance sheet must report the lower amount.

How ShipBob helps you prevent inventory write-downs

If you are aware of an inventory issue that requires a write-down, charge the entire amount to expense at once. Do not spread the write-down over future periods, because that would imply that some benefit is accruing to the business over the write-down period, which is not the case. In our hypothetical example, the “Inventory” account is adjusted by the debit entry of $20k, while the “Allowance for Obsolete Inventory” account reflects a credit balance of $20k.

Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. Here are answers to the top questions people have about inventory write-downs. By taking a look at historical data, you can predict future demand for each SKU and make informed decisions to avoid purchasing too much of an item that might lose its value before it gets sold.

Likewise, in this journal entry, the company ABC’s total assets on the balance sheet are reduced by $20,000 while the expenses on the income statement increase by the same amount of $20,000 on March 5. Loss on inventory write-off is an expense account on the income statement, in which its normal balance is on the debit side. Likewise, in this journal entry, the write-off expense will increase in the same amount of the inventory loss.


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