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FIFO First-In, First-Out, Definition, Example

The other common inventory calculation methods are LIFO (last-in, first-out) and average cost. The FIFO approach yields a higher value of the final stock, lesser cost of goods sold, and greater gross profit during inflation. This is because in an inflationary market when FIFO is applied, the old stock cleared first leaves behind the costlier items in the balance sheet, to be sold at a higher price in the future. Investors and banking institutions value FIFO because it is a transparent method of calculating cost of goods sold. It is also easier for management when it comes to bookkeeping, because of its simplicity. It also means the company will be able to declare more profit, making the business attractive to potential investors.

  1. Businesses using the LIFO method will record the most recent inventory costs first, which impacts taxes if the cost of goods in the current economic conditions are higher and sales are down.
  2. Under FIFO, the cost of goods sold will be lower and the closing inventory will be higher.
  3. For brands looking to store inventory and fulfill orders within their own warehouses, ShipBob’s warehouse management system (WMS) can provide better visibility and organization.

In theory, this means the oldest inventory gets shipped out to customers before newer inventory. When a company selects its inventory method, there are downstream repercussions that impact its net income, balance sheet, and ways it needs to track inventory. Here is a high-level summary of the pros and cons of each inventory method.

If you wonder how much is your inventory value, you can use our great online FIFO calculator to find it out. By adopting these principles and best practices, you position your business for long-term success and growth, while also contributing to a more sustainable and efficient business landscape. Incorporating FIFO into your workflows empowers you to make well-informed decisions, optimize inventory levels, and maintain transparency with stakeholders. By fostering a culture of FIFO compliance, you promote accountability and ensure consistent implementation throughout your operations. Automation reduces the likelihood of human errors and streamlines your operations, leading to cost savings and improved overall productivity. This practice not only prevents waste and spoilage but also helps you maintain the highest product quality and safety standards.

For example, say a rare antiques dealer purchases a mirror, a chair, a desk, and a vase for $50, $4,000, $375, and $800 respectively. If the dealer sold the desk and the vase, the COGS would be $1,175 ($375 + $800), and the ending inventory value would be  $4,050 ($4,000 + $50). It’s important to note that FIFO is designed for inventory accounting purposes and provides a simple formula to calculate the value of ending inventory. But in many cases, what’s received first isn’t always necessarily sold and fulfilled first.

Adopting FIFO enables Apple to considerably reduce the aggregation of its old products in inventory. We shall assume Dan’s has a store that sells music systems and has been operational since September. At, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

This promotes transparency and accountability while ensuring accuracy in accounting practices. Another advantage of FIFO is that it offers better accuracy when calculating profits. Since it uses the actual cost of goods sold (COGS), businesses can calculate their profit margins more accurately without having to estimate costs. A $40 profit differential wouldn’t make a significant difference to your bottom line.

FIFO means “First In, First Out” and is an asset-management and valuation method in which assets produced or acquired first are sold, used, or disposed of first. FIFO assumes assets with the oldest costs are included in the income statement’s Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). The remaining inventory assets are matched to assets most recently purchased or produced. In other words, the costs to acquire merchandise or materials are charged against revenues in the order in which they are incurred. There is more to inventory valuation than simply entering the amount you pay for your inventory into your accounting or inventory management software.

This not only enhances your business’s overall productivity but also aligns with your commitment to sustainable business practices in an ever-changing world. By incorporating these best practices, you create a robust framework for maintaining FIFO in your business processes. This not only reduces waste but also enhances overall operational efficiency.

The example given below explains the use of FIFO method in a perpetual inventory system. If you want to understand its use in a periodic inventory system, read “first-in, first-out (FIFO) method in periodic inventory system” article. First-in, first-out (FIFO) is one of the methods we can use to place a value on the ending inventory and the cost of inventory sold.

Impact of FIFO Inventory Valuation Method on Financial Statements

The value of remaining inventory, assuming it is not-perishable, is also understated with the LIFO method because the business is going by the older costs to acquire or manufacture that product. The “inventory sold” refers to the cost of purchased goods (with the intention of reselling), or the cost of produced goods (which includes labor, material & manufacturing overhead costs). Check out our guide to the top inventory management software solutions to get started.

Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. Knowledge about these factors lets the company estimate the value of its stock. To see our product designed specifically for your country, please visit the United States site. FIFO is also the option you want to choose if you wish to avoid having your books placed under scrutiny by the IRS (tax authorities), or if you are running a business outside of the US.

Due to inflation, the more recent inventory typically costs more than older inventory. With the FIFO method, since the lower value of goods are sold first, the ending inventory tends to be worth a greater value. To calculate the value of ending inventory, the cost of goods sold (COGS) of the oldest inventory is used to determine the value of ending inventory, despite any recent changes in costs.


You can meet customer demands effectively, improve lead times, and maintain a well-organized inventory system. Embracing the First-In-First-Out (FIFO) method in your business processes offers several significant advantages. By incorporating FIFO in these various applications, you can enhance your business processes, reduce waste, optimize resource utilization, and improve overall efficiency.

For perishable goods — like groceries — or other items that lose their value with time, using LIFO valuation doesn’t make sense because you will always try to sell older inventory first. LIFO will produce a larger cost of goods sold and a lower closing inventory. Under FIFO, the cost of goods sold will be lower and the closing inventory will be higher. These methods are assumptions and do not actually track the actual inventory.

Examples of calculating inventory using FIFO

Please share this article with your colleagues as well, so that they can also benefit from it. Follow my LinkedIn account for more insights on supply chain management. All articles on this blog are free net 30 payment terms example for you to use for any purpose, including commercial use, without the need for attribution. By using such technology, you can improve the accuracy and efficiency of your inventory management processes.

Ways Supply Chain Management Can Contribute to Business Profits

For example, in an inflationary environment, current-cost revenue dollars will be matched against older and lower-cost inventory items, which yields the highest possible gross margin. FIFO stands for “first in, first out” and assumes the first items entered into your inventory are the first ones you sell. LIFO, also known as “last in, first out,” assumes the most recent items entered into your inventory will be the ones to sell first. The inventory valuation method you choose will depend on your tax situation, inventory flow and record keeping requirements. They sell most of their inventory but have some left at the end of the year.

Must-Do Actions for Supply Chain Managers When Faced with an Inaccurate Sales Forecast

FIFO ensures that the cost of goods sold (COGS) and the value of ending inventory are calculated based on the most recent purchase prices. In your financial accounting practices, FIFO is employed to determine the cost of goods sold (COGS) and the value of ending inventory. First, we add the number of inventory units purchased in the left column along with its unit cost. Furthermore, implementing the FIFO formula simplifies record-keeping and makes it easier to track individual batches of product as they move through the supply chain.

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