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Inventory Valuation: Methods and Comparison

Inventory valuation methods – Inventory represents one of the most valuable assets of a retail business, and it is an essential component in the company’s balance sheet. This is why retailers must know the value of their inventory.  There are four methods that retailers can implement to find out the value of their inventory, namely LIFO, FIFO, FEFO, and Weighted-Average Cost methods.

The LIFO, FIFO, FEFO, and Average Cost methods are common methods in the accounting cycle. However, this method is complex and time-consuming. This makes an accountant need an accounting system that can simplify their work. How do these methods work, and what distinguishes them? The following provides for a more in explanation.

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According to the FIFO (First In, First Out) method, items that are first added to inventory have to be removed or sold first, while items that last entered the warehouse will be sold later. This is the most common method that companies use for inventory valuation. The FIFO method assumes that older inventory is cost of sales and newer inventory is ending inventory. The actual flow of inventory may not exactly match the first-in, first-out pattern.

For example, a bakery produces 200 loaves of bread on Monday at a cost of $1.5 each, and 200 more on Tuesday at $2 each. FIFO states that if the bakery sold 200 loaves on Wednesday, the COGS (on the income statement) is $1.5 per loaf, because that was the cost of each of the first loaves. The $2 loaves would go to the ending inventory (on the balance sheet).

Also read: 5 Effective Ways for Optimizing Inventory Turnover


LIFO (Last In, First Out) is the opposite of the FIFO method. According to LIFO method, the last items we purchase or produce we should sell it first, while the first items that arrive in the inventory we will sell it later on. Under this method, the cost of the most recent products purchased (or produced) are the first to be expensed as cost of goods sold (COGS)—which means the lower cost of older products will be reported as inventory.

The LIFO method helps companies save on taxes when inflation occurs, due to small profits. However, the use of this method is somewhat more complex than other inventory valuation methods. The bookkeeping costs are more expensive while the profit or loss is lower.

Now International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) forbid the LIFO method. This method is ineffective for valuing inventory for three reasons.The LIFO method generates a higher operational profit than other inventory valuation systems.

Secondly, the LIFO method also does not represent the current level of inventory costs. When using this method, you’re unable to figure out the relevant value or the actual state of your inventory. In the end, this reduces the quality of the financial statements themselves. Lastly, some companies often use this method to manipulate taxes.

Also read: What is PPIC (Production Planning & Inventory Control)?


Inventory Valuation Methods | Comparison The FEFO method is a method in which goods with the nearest expiration period must be removed or sold first, regardless of whether the goods entered the warehouse first or later. The companies that commonly use the FEFO method are food retailers and pharmacies. The inventory employee usually arranges the product near the front racks or easily accessible spots so customers can take it promptly. The company will usually store products with longer shelf life in the warehouse first.

Also read: Why Business Should Switch to Cloud Inventory Management

Weighted-Average Cost 

The Weighted-Average Cost method is the midpoint or a combination of the FIFO and LIFO methods. According to this method, the cost of goods available for sale is divided by the number of units available for sale and is commonly used when inventory items are so melded or identical to each other that it is impossible to assign specific costs to single units.

A significant advantage of using the weighted average cost method that it is the simplest way to track inventory expense. You can just mark up the average price of the stock units instead of tracking the initial cost.

An issue with the weighted average cost method is when your inventory prices vary widely, where you may not recover the costs of the more expensive units and may even suffering a loss with your sales price. The idea behind the method is that you will make up any loss when you sell the less expensive items. If that doesn’t happen, you may end up discontinuing the item and never recouping your losses.

Automated Inventory Valuation

Calculating stock values ​​requires precision. Because miscalculations can cause harm to your business, we recommend that you use the inventory management system that allows you to automatically perform valuation. This fully integrated software allows you to accurately value periodic inventory system inventory using FIFO, FEFO, and Average Cost methods.


The LIFO, FIFO, FEFO, and Average Cost methods are common for an accountant. Accountants often use this method to determine and manage the sales system in the company. However, this method is complex and takes a lot of time to work on. This is what makes an accountant need integrated accounting software from HashMicro. Moreover, companies can adopt an ERP system that allows them to integrate their business functions, automate financial reports, and create comprehensive business reports in real-time. Click here for more.

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