The number of times a company’s inventory is sold and replaced in a specific period.

Inventory turnover, also referred to as inventory turns or stock turnover, is a financial ratio that measures how efficiently a business sells and replaces its stock of inventory over a specific period [1, 2, 3]. It essentially indicates how many times a business has sold and replenished its inventory within that timeframe.

Formula and Calculation:

Inventory turnover is calculated by dividing the cost of goods sold (COGS) by the average inventory for the period. Here’s the formula:

Inventory Turnover Ratio = Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) / Average Inventory
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): This represents the direct costs associated with producing the goods or services sold by a business during a specific period. It typically includes the cost of materials, labor, and overhead directly involved in production.
  • Average Inventory: There are two common methods to calculate average inventory:
    • Simple Average Inventory: This involves taking the sum of the inventory value at the beginning and end of the period and dividing it by two.
    • Weighted Average Inventory: This method takes into account inventory levels and cost throughout the period, providing a more accurate representation of average inventory.


A higher inventory turnover ratio generally indicates a more efficient business in terms of inventory management. It suggests that the business is selling its inventory quickly and not holding onto excess stock for extended periods. This can lead to several benefits, such as:

  • Reduced storage costs: Less inventory requires less storage space, leading to lower storage and warehousing costs.
  • Improved cash flow: Faster inventory turnover translates to quicker conversion of inventory into cash, improving a company’s cash flow position.
  • Lower risk of obsolescence: Holding less inventory reduces the risk of products becoming outdated or obsolete before they can be sold.

However, a very high inventory turnover ratio might also indicate insufficient inventory levels, potentially leading to stockouts and lost sales opportunities. Conversely, a consistently low inventory turnover ratio might suggest excess inventory, which can tie up capital, increase storage costs, and raise the risk of obsolescence.

Industry Benchmarks:

It’s important to compare a company’s inventory turnover ratio to industry benchmarks and historical data to gain a more meaningful understanding of its efficiency. Inventory turnover can vary significantly across different industries. Businesses with shorter product lifecycles or those selling perishable goods typically have higher inventory turnover ratios compared to companies dealing with products with longer lifespans.