FIFO vs LIFO approach in Programming

And companies are required by law to state which accounting method they used in their published financials. FIFO can be a better indicator of the value for ending inventory because the older items have been used up while the most recently acquired items reflect current market prices. As technology advances and consumer demands evolve, the future of inventory management in e-commerce lies in innovative stock rotation methods like FIFO.

FIFO and LIFO produce a different cost per unit sold, and the difference impacts both the balance sheet (inventory account) and the income statement (cost of goods sold). There are other methods used to value stock such as specific identification and average or weighted cost. The method that a business uses to compute its inventory can have a significant impact on its financial statements. At the time of inflation in the economy, the value of the unsold stock will be low, while the value of the cost of goods sold will be high, which will ultimately result in low profit and income tax as well.

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. When all inventory items are sold, the total cost of goods sold is the same, regardless of the valuation method you choose in a particular accounting period.

Under FIFO, the COGS will be $1,000 (100 units $10/unit), as it assumes that the units bought in January are sold first. However, under LIFO, the COGS will be $1,500 (100 units $15/unit), as it assumes that the units bought in February are sold first. The Financial Accounting Standards Board’s Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) Topic 330 provides detailed guidance on inventory accounting.

Conclusion – FIFO vs LIFO:

The LIFO method assigns the most recent inventory costs to COGS, resulting in higher COGS and lower earnings in a rising price environment. The FIFO method assumes that the goods purchased or produced by a company are the first to be sold. When prices rise, the method results in lower COGS, higher profits, and higher taxes. The principle of LIFO is highly dependent on how the price of goods fluctuates based on the economy.

  • Last in/first out (LIFO) and first in/first out (FIFO) are the two most common types of inventory valuation methods used.
  • For instance, in a printer queue, you would want to process the print requests in the order they were received.
  • The Last-In, First-Out (LIFO) method assumes that the last or moreunit to arrive in inventory is sold first.
  • Since the inventory purchased first was recognized, the company’s net income (and earnings per share, or “EPS”) will each be higher in the current period – all else being equal.

Assuming Ted kept his sales prices the same (which he did, in order to stay competitive), this means there was less profit for Ted’s Televisions by the end of the year. We are going to use one company as an example to demonstrate calculating the cost of goods sold with both FIFO and LIFO methods. Lastly, under LIFO, financial statements are much more easier to manipulate. Inventory refers to purchased goods with the intention of reselling, or produced goods (including labor, material & manufacturing overhead costs). No, the LIFO inventory method is not permitted under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Both the LIFO and FIFO methods are permitted under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Keeping Track of Inventory

But as long as they are the same, standardized widgets, Batch 3 goods are unsold for the purposes of accounting. Although, the assumption is proved illogical and contradictory to the movement of inventory in the business organization. By virtue of this, LIFO method is no longer adopted for valuing inventory. The remaining unsold 350 televisions will be accounted for in “inventory”.

Beyond tax impact

In other words, the products that enter the warehouse first are the ones that leave first when an order is placed. This method ensures that products with shorter shelf life or those prone to obsolescence are used before newer stock. Think of the LIFO stack as a stack of plates where plates added to the top last are also picked from the top first. This is in sharp contrast to the queue-type data structure used in FIFO, where the first element entering the queue is also the first to be processed. The queue-type data structure used by FIFO is a simple and intuitive method of handling data and is used in many applications.


More abstractly, it may be seen as a sequential collection wherein the push and pop operations only occur at one end of the structure — the ‘top’ of the stack. Another operation carried out in queue-type data structures is known as ‘peek,’ where the entity at the front of the queue is displayed without its removal. This data structure follows the FIFO principle, meaning new entities are added to the back of the queue, and the entities at the front of the queue are processed first. Let’s understand the key differences between the FIFO and LIFO methods in more detail. LIFO is better suited for applications that do not focus on the order of processing data and instead give more importance to data recency. For instance, web browsers allow users to navigate back and forth among the web pages visited using the ‘Back’ and ‘Forward’ buttons.

With FIFO, the assumption is that the first items to be produced are also the first items to be sold. For example, let’s say a grocery receives 30 units of milk on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The store owner will put the older milk at the front of the shelf, with the hopes that the Monday shipment will sell first.

FIFO and LIFO alternatives

The best POS systems will include inventory tracking and inventory valuation features, making it easy for business owners and managers to choose between LIFO and FIFO and use their chosen method. Another difference is that FIFO can be utilized for both U.S.- and internationally based financial statements, whereas LIFO cannot. Ng offered another example, revisiting the Candle Corporation and its batch-purchase numbers and prices. The international accounting standards organization IFRS doesn’t allow LIFO inventory, so you will have to use FIFO if you are doing business internationally. It is an inventory costing method where the goods placed last in an inventory are sold first. The goods placed first in the inventory remain in the inventory at the end of the year.

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