Since there is no constant
monitoring, it may be more difficult to make in-the-moment business
decisions about inventory needs. Here, we’ll briefly discuss
these additional closing entries and adjustments as they relate to
the perpetual inventory system. Companies that use periodic accounting do all necessary journal entries and bookkeeping at the end of each accounting period. As part of their period-ending work, they count inventory and then use that number on the balance sheet and to calculate cost of goods sold. However, the need for frequent physical counts of inventory can suspend business operations each time this is done.

The absence of complex technology eliminates the need for specialized training and store managers can start operating the system from the first day of setup. Periodic inventories can be done once a week, monthly, at the end of every quarter, or annually based on the size of the items in stock. This inventory type is usually conducted manually using a physical or computer-based spreadsheet. FIFO (first in, first out) refers to an accounting system that assumes the oldest products are sold first, followed by newer ones.

  • Businesses that account for inventory periodically likely use the FIFO method to sell older units first.
  • That is the significance of a perpetual system; it provides the ability to keep track of the various types of merchandise.
  • Perpetual inventory management systems plug into a central gathering hub that can efficiently collect and interpret data from multiple sources.
  • Since a perpetual inventory system estimates stock on hand, it does not replace a periodic physical inventory.
  • That’s because it takes the inventory at the beginning of the reporting period and at the end unlike the perpetual system, which takes regular inventory counts.
  • When a sales return occurs, perpetual inventory systems require recognition of the inventory’s condition.

First, the sales transaction’s effect on revenue must be recognized by making an entry to increase accounts receivable and the sales account. Second, the flow of merchandise between inventory (an asset) and cost of goods sold (an expense) is recorded in accordance with the matching principle. Within this system, a company makes no effort to keep detailed inventory records of products on hand; instead, purchases of goods are recorded as a debit to the inventory database.

What is the difference between periodic and perpetual inventory systems?

COGS for the first quarter of the year is $350,000 ($500,000 beginning + $250,000 purchases – $400,000 ending). While each inventory system has its own advantages and disadvantages, the more popular system is the perpetual inventory system. Its journal entries for the acquisition of the Model XY-7 bicycle are as follows.

While the perpetual system cannot perform the physical inventory count as companies with thousands of inventory transactions widely use it. On the other hand, the periodic system first adds the inventory to the purchases accounts, and after the inventory count, it adds the figures to the inventory account. The periodic inventory system is commonly used by businesses that sell a small quantity of goods during an accounting period. These companies often find it beneficial to use this system because it is easy to implement and because it is cost-effective, as it doesn’t require any fancy software. In a perpetual inventory system, we always update our COGS account with every transaction.

While this gives an exact estimate of all the products available at the point of stock-taking, it does not account for a continuous, daily estimate. At a grocery store using the perpetual inventory system, when products with barcodes are swiped and paid for, the system automatically updates inventory levels in a database. The inventory records are kept in Bin Card (Stores Keeper) and Stores Ledger (Cost Accounting Department).


Even if you’re a small business, that doesn’t mean that the perpetual inventory system isn’t beneficial to you. In choosing an inventory system, you have to weigh the costs and benefits. As long as the benefits exceed the cost, you can use any of the two inventory systems. Businesses can choose to use either a perpetual period periodic inventory system to calculate their cost of goods sold (COGS). A periodic inventory system calculates the COGS following a physical inventory count at period-end, whereas a perpetual inventory system calculates the COGS after each sale. Some companies don’t wait until the end of an accounting period to track inventory.

Just-In-Time: History, Objective, Productions, and Purchasing

This accounting method requires a physical count of inventory at specific times, such as at the end of the quarter or fiscal year. This means that a company using this system tracks the inventory on hand at the beginning and end of that specific accounting period. The inventory isn’t tracked on a regular basis or when sales are executed. The periodic inventory system also allows companies to determine the cost of goods sold. When a sales return occurs, perpetual inventory systems require recognition of the inventory’s condition.

Perpetual vs. Periodic Inventory Systems

This is why many companies perform a physical count only once a quarter or even once a year. For companies under a periodic system, this means that the inventory account and cost of goods sold figures are not necessarily very fresh or accurate. The cost of goods sold (COGS) is an important accounting metric derived by adding the beginning balance of inventory to the cost of inventory purchases and subtracting the cost of the ending inventory. With a perpetual inventory system, COGS is updated constantly instead of periodically with the alternative physical inventory. Businesses, especially ones that carry thousands of products in multiple storage locations, will need to devote time and resources to inventory accounting, no matter which method they choose.

A periodic inventory system updates and records the inventory account at certain, scheduled times at the end of an operating cycle. A perpetual inventory system automatically updates and records the inventory account every time a sale, or purchase of inventory, occurs. You can consider this “recording as you go.” The recognition of each sale or purchase happens immediately upon sale or purchase. A perpetual inventory system automatically
updates and records the inventory account every time a sale, or
purchase of inventory occurs.

As soon as inventory leaves your facility, it gets scanned by barcode into the updated inventory count, making cycle counts and other continually updating statistics possible. This system is more detailed and modern, tracking accurate counts for merchandise inventory, COGS, what’s the recovery rebate credit cycle counts, raw material records, and more without waiting for accounting periods to begin or end. In short, only businesses with inventories that can be manually managed should consider periodic inventory now, in the age of advanced inventory management software.

The answer lies in the methodology, and today, the distinction is closely tied to software capability. To calculate inventory, companies need to set up a system where every piece of inventory is entered into the system and deducted from the system as it’s sold. This requires the use of point-of-sale terminals, barcode scanners, and perpetual inventory software to update estimated inventory with every product purchase and sale.

Published On: December 11th, 2023 / Categories: Bookkeeping /