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How to Calculate Ending Inventory: Formula and Importance!

Knowing how to calculate ending inventory accurately is an important accounting skill for any business. Ending inventory directly impacts your company’s net income and helps improve overall inventory management. In this article, we’ll explain what ending inventory is, why it’s important, provide the formula to calculate it, and tips for estimating it accurately.

What is Ending Inventory?

Ending inventory refers to the goods a company has in stock at the end of an accounting period. It’s the physical products and materials a business owns that have not yet been sold. Ending inventory is an asset account on the balance sheet that changes each period depending on sales activity. It’s calculated after purchases, sales, and returns are accounted for.

Why is Ending Inventory Important?

Accurately measuring and tracking ending inventory is extremely important for several critical reasons. Having precise ending inventory totals also helps businesses with production planning, purchasing decisions, sales forecasts, and establishing efficient inventory management systems. Tracking it diligently should be a priority for any product-driven company. Accurately measuring ending inventory is crucial for several reasons:

1. Inventory Tracking Accuracy 

Proper inventory accounting helps businesses track products, avoid shortages or overstocks, and identify lost or stolen items. If ending inventory doesn’t match actual stock levels, it’s a red flag that inventory management needs improvement.

2. Calculates Net Income

Ending inventory directly impacts the cost of goods sold expense account. The higher the ending inventory, the lower the cost of goods sold and the higher the net income. Inaccurate ending inventory means inaccurate net income on financial statements.

3. Improves Reporting and Forecasting

Trends and ratios calculated from ending inventory totals can improve planning and forecasting for purchasing, production, sales, and financing needs. Without a precise ending inventory value, these reports will be skewed.

Understanding how to calculate ending inventory is essential for effective inventory management strategies, which can be enhanced by implementing proven techniques to improve inventory management processes.

How to Estimate Ending Inventory

For some businesses, physically counting all inventory at the end of each period is impractical. In these cases, ending inventory can be estimated in a few ways:

  1. Use previous inventory turnover rate: Apply the average turnover rate from prior periods to estimate the current period’s ending inventory.
  2. Perform a partial physical count: Count inventory levels for a sample of high-value goods and estimate the rest.
  3. Use sales data: Use sales records to deduct the cost of goods sold from the existing beginning inventory.
  4. Adjust purchase receipts: Factor in purchases delivered but not yet added to inventory at period end.

Accurately calculating ending inventory takes practice. While it requires effort, proper inventory accounting provides invaluable visibility and control. Following the formula and estimation tips above will help any business achieve inventory success.

Discovering how to calculate ending inventory is crucial for setting appropriate restock limits based on storage type, ensuring optimal inventory levels, and efficient warehouse operations.

Understanding Ending Inventory Calculation 

When determining ending inventory, businesses must choose an inventory valuation method to assign costs to units sold and still on hand. The three main methods are FIFO, LIFO, and weighted average cost. Each provides a different view of ending inventory value.

1. FIFO Method (First In/First Out) 

The FIFO (first in, first out) method assumes the oldest inventory units are sold first. The cost of the remaining ending inventory is the most recent purchase. FIFO matches current costs against current revenues. It results in a higher stated ending inventory value and lower cost of goods sold.

2. LIFO Method (Last In/First Out)

The LIFO (last in, first out) method assumes that the newest inventory units are sold first. Ending inventory costs is based on the oldest purchase costs. LIFO matches current revenues against the oldest costs. This results in lower ending inventory values and higher cost of goods sold. 

3. Weighted Average Cost Method  

The weighted average cost (WAC) method calculates ending inventory based on the average cost of all units purchased over some time. The total cost of goods available for sale is divided by the total units available to determine a weighted average cost per unit. It results in an ending inventory valuation between FIFO and LIFO.

Cost of goods Sold (COGS)  

The cost of goods sold (COGS) represents the costs directly tied to the production or purchase of inventory sold during an accounting period. It is calculated by taking the beginning inventory balance, adding inventory purchases or manufacturing costs, and subtracting the ending inventory value for the period. COGS provides an accurate picture of product expenses and is deducted from sales revenue to determine a company’s gross profit.

Learning how to calculate ending inventory plays a vital role in optimizing your order fulfillment process, enabling you to maintain accurate stock levels and fulfill customer orders efficiently and on time.

The Ending Inventory Formula 

To find the ending inventory:

  1. Start with the beginning inventory’s total cost. 
  2. Add purchases made during the period at their cost. 
  3. Apply the chosen valuation method (COGS, FIFO, LIFO, or WAC) to determine the cost of goods sold. 
  4. Deduct the cost of goods sold from the total goods available to find the ending inventory value. 

This can be calculated using this formula:

Beginning Inventory + Purchases – Cost of Goods Sold = Ending Inventory

Mastering how to calculate ending inventory can lead to improved ecommerce conversion rates by ensuring adequate product availability, enhancing customer satisfaction, and driving more sales conversions.

Impacts of Properly Calculated Ending Inventory on Business

Accurately measuring ending inventory has several key business impacts:

  1. Provides accurate asset valuation on the balance sheet
  2. Helps determine net income and gross margin ratios
  3. Reveals inventory management effectiveness and trends
  4. Improves purchasing and production forecasting 
  5. Allows for cost control techniques like JIT to be utilized
  6. Meets accounting principles and external reporting standards

Proper ending inventory calculation is vital for understanding product costs and maintaining efficient operations.

Acquiring knowledge on how to calculate ending inventory is crucial when finding the perfect fulfillment partner, as it enables you to align your inventory management needs with the capabilities of your chosen partner.


Numerous businesses depend on maintaining precise inventory levels year-round. Understanding the worth of any unsold ending inventory is crucial for gauging supply chain expenditures. This insight enables you to identify areas for enhancement and streamline operations for greater efficiency.

At Payless Prep Center, we specialize in warehousing fulfillment services tailored to companies seeking improved inventory management solutions. Get in touch with us today to explore how we can assist you further.


Can you determine ending inventory values without figuring out the cost of goods sold?

No, the cost of goods sold must be accurately calculated to deduct it from the total goods available for sale. This reveals the unsold ending inventory remaining.

Is there any impact on inventory management if ending inventory is not accurate? 

Yes, if the ending inventory does not match the physical count, the inventory is not being tracked correctly. This can lead to stockouts, dead stock, and unnecessary costs from improper planning.

How does ending inventory affect income statements?

Since ending inventory is an asset, higher values reduce the cost of goods sold increasing gross profit and net income on the income statement. Lower-ending inventory has the opposite effect.

Are there factors that may also influence ending inventory values?

Yes, inventory loss from theft or damage, trade discounts, price markdowns, obsolescence, and changes in accounting methods can all alter ending inventory calculations. Companies need robust controls and procedures in place.

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