Terms & Glossaries of Shipping and Trading

Average Inventory

Average inventory is a calculation that estimates the value or number of a particular good or set of goods during two or more specified time periods.

What is Average Inventory?

Inventory is the value of all the goods ready for sale or all of the raw materials to create those goods that are stored by a company. Successful inventory management is a key focal point for companies as it allows them to better manage their overall business in terms of sales, costs, and relationships with their suppliers.

Since two points do not always accurately represent changes in inventory over different time periods, average inventory is frequently calculated by using the number of points needed to more accurately reflect activities across a certain amount of time.

For instance, if a business was attempting to calculate the average inventory over the course of a fiscal year, it may be more accurate to use the inventory count from the end of each month, including the base month. The values associated with each point are added together and divided by the number of points, in this case, 13, to determine the average inventory.

The average inventory figures can be used as a point of comparison when looking at overall sales volume, allowing a business to track inventory losses that may have occurred due to theft or shrinkage, or due to damaged goods caused by mishandling. It also accounts for any perishable inventory that has expired.

The formula for average inventory can be expressed as follows:

Average Inventory = (Current Inventory + Previous Inventory) / Number of Periods

Average inventory is used often in ratio analysis; for instance, in calculating inventory turnover.