What is FIFO?

First In, First Out, commonly known as FIFO, is an asset-management and valuation method in which assets produced or acquired first are sold, used, or disposed of first. For example, the seafood company, mentioned earlier, would use their oldest inventory first (or first in) in selling and shipping their products. Since the seafood company would never leave older inventory in stock to spoil, FIFO accurately reflects the company’s process of using the oldest inventory first in selling their goods. As a result, LIFO isn’t practical for many companies that sell perishable goods and doesn’t accurately reflect the logical production process of using the oldest inventory first. When inventory items have a relatively short life span, it can be of considerable importance to structure the warehousing storage system so that the oldest items are presented to pickers first. It is a cost layering concept under which the first goods purchased are assumed to be the first goods sold.

  • In addition, companies often try to match the physical movement of inventory to the inventory method they use.
  • Inventory management proved challenging due to their diverse inventory and fluctuating market prices.
  • At Red Stag Fulfillment, we know firsthand that top-notch fulfillment can help eCommerce businesses grow and scale.
  • Sal sold 600 sunglasses during this time, out of his stock of 1275.
  • Ending inventory value impacts your balance sheets and inventory write-offs.

Modern inventory management systems can forecast demand patterns by leveraging data analytics and predictive algorithms. These patterns can predict which products are likely to be sold first. You can decide which inventory items to prioritize, reducing the risk of obsolescence and waste.

What are the implications of using FIFO in inventory accounting?

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). An ineffective system may lead to damaged goods if the AS/RS doesn’t handle them properly. Moreover, it may not be worth the investment if your goods require processing. It’s most effective when products simply need to be stored and transported. Management can lay out the warehouse more effectively based on which items are picked most often.

  • For example, if LIFO results the lowest net income and the FIFO results in the highest net income, the average inventory method will usually end up between the two.
  • If suppliers or manufacturers suddenly raise the price of raw materials or goods, a business may find significant discrepancies between their recorded vs. actual costs and profits.
  • However, you may not always end up selling the oldest products first.
  • Therefore, we can see that the balances for COGS and inventory depend on the inventory valuation method.
  • The FIFO method is the first in, first out way of dealing with and assigning value to inventory.

The First-In, First-Out (FIFO)  is a widely used method for inventory management at the end of any accounting period. Here, the oldest inventory items are sold or used first, and the most recent stock will be the last to be used or go for sale. The reverse approach to inventory valuation is the LIFO method, where the items most recently added to inventory are assumed to have been used first. This means that the ending inventory balance tends to be lower, while the cost of goods sold is increased, resulting in lower taxable profits.

FIFO in cost of goods sold accounting

Subsequently, the inventory asset on the balance sheet will show expenses closer to the current prices in the marketplace. While there are various methods of inventory management that Apple uses such as a sequential mechanism for efficient inventory tracking; it also uses the FIFO method. Following the FIFO model, Apple sells the units of its older models first.

How to use the FIFO method

As prices fluctuate throughout the year, FIFO inventory accounting helps Garden Gnome keep track of its true cost of goods sold. That allows it to set retail prices that accurately reflect costs and maintain healthy profit margins. That reduces the chance of getting stuck with outdated stock if a manufacturer changes a product style. The First-in First-out (FIFO) method of inventory valuation is based on the assumption that the sale or usage of goods follows the same order in which they are bought.


Let’s assume there is a need to increase inventory as the shirts get popular. Regularly update inventory pricing based online invoicing portal on market trends and demand fluctuations. No matter what the size of your business is, FIFO can prove to be crucial.

In the LIFO inventory system, newer items are placed at the front of the shelf and picked first. Arnold points out that there are sometimes good reasons to use a LIFO model for fulfillment. For example, an electronics manufacturer might want customers to get the newest version of a device, even if that means the older stock sells at a discount. In this case, giving consumers the latest products is worth forgoing higher profit. First in, first out — or FIFO — is an inventory management practice where the oldest stock goes to fill orders first.

What Are the Other Inventory Valuation Methods?

Reduced profit may means tax breaks, however, it may also make a company less attractive to investors. It stands for “First-In, First-Out” and is used for cost flow assumption purposes. Cost flow assumptions refers to the method of moving the cost of a company’s product out of its inventory to its cost of goods sold. The biggest disadvantage to using FIFO is that you’ll likely pay more in taxes than through other methods. Companies with perishable goods or items heavily subject to obsolescence are more likely to use LIFO.