The difference between perpetual LIFO and periodic LIFO

lifo periodic inventory method

Fifo method should be used when the company is trying to show its immense potential of earning huge profits. For instance, let’s assume you have a business of t-shirts and jackets. One day you get an order for a woolen coat that has been very rarely asked, and it’s a summer season. Discover the products that 31,000+ customers depend on to fuel their growth.

Businesses with periodic inventory in place may not realize a product is running low until a customer asks why it isn’t on the shelf. Even worse, you could make an online sale only to find the item isn’t in stock and backordered with your supplier. Both are far from ideal customer experiences and can add extra stress on your staff. One big negative, however, is that you are only collecting minimal information, usually just a discrete product count. Further, you do not collect or report this data in “real-time.” You update stock numbers at distinct periods and not when you buy or sell them. In fact, you will not have much information to go on should you need to track your products from beginning to end or investigate shortfalls or overages.


The perpetual and periodic inventory system are two sides of the same coin. ShipBob pushes for a more accurate, real-time approach to inventory management by not only storing your inventory and fulfilling your orders but providing the tools needed to stay ahead. There is a greater margin of error with the periodic system as opposed to the perpetual system because it relies on a physical count.

  • Organizations use estimates for mid-year markers, such as monthly and quarterly reports.
  • Unlike FIFO that gives the same results under both the inventory systems, the choice of inventory system will affect the cost of sales and ending inventory value if LIFO method is used.
  • Remember, there is no correlation between physical inventory movement and cost method.
  • Record sales discount by debiting the sales discount account and crediting the accounts receivable account.
  • And the ending balance is removed to another account at the end of the year.
  • Under LIFO, you assume that the last item entering inventory is the first one to be used.

In contrast, a perpetual system maintains an ongoing record of the goods that remain on hand and those that have been sold. As noted, both of these systems have advantages and disadvantages. You save time and get the ability to start making decisions that increase bar profitability. Whoever came up with perpetual inventory should get a medal.


The company uses a periodic inventory system to account for sales and purchases of inventory. The periodic inventory system is a method of inventory valuation in which a physical count of inventory is performed at specific intervals. You may have noticed that perpetual inventory gave you a slightly lower cost of goods sold that periodic did. Under periodic, you wait until the end of the period and then take the most recent purchases, but under perpetual, we take the most recent purchases at the time of the sale.

Why do companies use LIFO?

The primary reason that companies choose to use an LIFO inventory method is that when you account for your inventory using the “last in, first out” method, you report lower profits than if you adopted a “first in, first out” method of inventory, known commonly as FIFO.

High probability of discrepancies –the inventory count is taken only at the end of the accounting period, which means there is no update before that. Since inventory isn’t updated regularly, major discrepancies could creep in from the beginning inventory count to the ending count. Moreover, the delivery cost is also kept in a separate account from the central inventory account.

How the LIFO Inventory Method Works

Inventory refers to any raw materials and finished goods that companies have on hand for production purposes or that are sold on the market to consumers. Two types of inventory are periodic and perpetual inventory.

  • It’s as simple as that since the systems are connected, and new data is flowing to each warehouse manager through an interlinked system.
  • Products are scanned with the use of barcode scanning for accurate inventory levels.
  • After this transaction, the inventory consists of 20 desktops costing $500 each and 10 minus 7, or 3, desktops costing $550 each.
  • Under the periodic method, we only calculate inventory at the end of the period.
  • Take note that you have to repeat this step before you make entries to LIFO layers.

Charlene Rhinehart is an expert in accounting, banking, investing, real estate, and personal finance. She is a CPA, CFE, Chair of the Illinois CPA Society Individual Tax Committee, and was recognized as one of Practice Ignition’s Top 50 women in accounting. Now that we know goods available for sale and ending inventory we can calculate cost of goods sold. LIFO assumes that the newest inventory purchased/produced is used or consumed first and the oldest inventory remains in the warehouse by the end of the period. Compute the cost of the ending inventory under the average-cost method. Which method is a method used to prepare the departmental production cost report when using a process cost system?

Using the Periodic Inventory System

This method is exactly opposite to first-in, first-out method. The LIFO periodic system and the LIFO perpetual system may generate different cost of goods sold and the cost of ending inventory figures. There were 5 books available for sale for the year 2021 and the cost of the goods available was $440. The weighted average cost of the books is $88 ($440 of cost of goods available ÷ 5 books). The average cost of $88 is used to compute both the cost of goods sold and the cost of the ending inventory. In this illustration, the last four costs are two units at $149 each and two units at $130 each for a total of $558.

lifo periodic inventory method

The beauty of a perpetual inventory system is that any perpetual inventory system journal entry is automated and fed into your restaurant accounting software. Perpetual lifo periodic inventory method inventory is an ongoing process that occurs in real-time. That means there’s a new perpetual inventory system journal entry with each new transaction.

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