For example, a retailer has an inventory level of $150,000 on July 1 and planned $152,000 end-of-month inventory for July 31. The planned sales for the store are $48,000 with $750 in planned markdowns. The cost of the goods a retail store sells plays a role in determining its profit. Although many retail sectors rely on a large markup, some goods are too expensive to support a large profit margin.
Track discounts and markdowns separately if you want more profit. You need to know what works best and without proper data, its your best guess. Your guess may be right on sometimes and completely off at others.
While markdowns are reported as a percentage of net sales, discounts are reported as a percentage of gross sales. Instead of being reported against merchandise performance and planned as part of the Open to Buy, discounts are reported separately on the Financial Statement. Sales Discounts can be reported as either a contra-revenue account or more specifically as promotional expenses or employee benefits.
On the other hand, if you under-buy meaning buy too little product and miss sales opportunities, you are not making your potential profit and are damaging the customer experience. A retailer can be sure to stock the proper amount of the right products at the right time by using an open-to-buy plan. Again, here a business looks at the retail price of its product and subtracts the cost of materials and labor used to produce it. For example, if you sell a leather belt at your boot store for $25, and it costs $20 to make, the gross profit margin is 20% ($5 divided by $25). This profit percentage can be handy if you want to know exactly what percentage of a sale goes back into your pocket.
A store with a high volume of sales can spread the cost of overhead over a larger sales base, and help reduce the margin it charges on each item purchased. For example, if a store has a monthly overhead of $40,000, and makes 1,000 sales, it needs to average $4 per sale simply to meet operating costs. A store with the same gross revenues that makes 200 sales a month needs to recoup $20 per sale to cover costs. Thus, a store with fewer sales must rely on a larger profit margin to cover operating expenses.
To get an accurate net profit margin, a company must include every expense as part of the total. This includes things like payroll, utilities, inventory, administrative costs, shipping, etc. Every line item in your ledger that accounts for money being paid to someone else must factor into your total expenses line item. Markdowns and discounts are useful to retailers in the day to day operation of the business, but need to be used sparingly and planned for. Remember, the cheapest but most effective advertising is word is mouth and it can work for or against you.
In a perfect world, you’d sell the last piece of your inventory right before new stock came in without any delays or slow periods. In most cases, any one of a number of factors will cause certain items to sell more slowly than you’d planned. You may receive unneeded push orders from your corporate headquarters, or your company’s buyer might make an error in judgment when ordering seasonal items. In order to move that merchandise off the sales floor, sometimes you have to discount, or markdown, merchandise and sell it at a lower price.
Retailers naturally try to avoid markdowns at all costs, but they’re an inevitable part of doing business. When faced with the choice of hanging onto merchandise that won’t sell or selling items at a lower price, it only makes sense to convert that extra inventory into cash on hand. Plus, a shoe on the shelf is worth nothing to your business when a bill comes due. Sometimes the best practice is to take the markdown and get rid of the merchandise which creates cash flow to “fix” your mistake with a better product next time.
The owner offered her best customers a significant discount for any one item on their birthday. She found that most often the discount was applied toward the purchase of a nice jacket. She then was able to sell the matching pants, skirt and blouse at regular price. The discount was too much for most of the customers to ignore but not enough to purchase an outfit.
In order to get the markdown percentage, take the amount of money you’ve discounted the merchandise at and divide it by the sales price. For example, if you’re stuck with an overstock of those $100 sweaters, you can put them on sale for $60. Take this $40 discount and divide it by the sales price of $60 and you’ll get a markdown percentage of 67 percent.
She would not have known this without using her point-of-sale system and proper tracking. Her overall markdowns were reduced because there was less remaining at the end of season.
How to Handle Markups and Markdowns in Accounting
We tend to fall in love with our buying decisions, sometimes to the detriment of our store. But markdowns done right can be healthy; they keep a store fresh and inviting. An eye for fashion is important, but it’s not going to ensure your business is a success. Retail owners must understand how to buy and sell their merchandise to make a steady profit.
This article is not about pricing strategies, but about discounts and markdowns and their affect on the bottom line. The bad side of markdowns is seen when they are the last recourse to selling the “dogs”-those items purchased that did not fit the desires of your customers.
- In a perfect world, you’d sell the last piece of your inventory right before new stock came in without any delays or slow periods.
- You may receive unneeded push orders from your corporate headquarters, or your company’s buyer might make an error in judgment when ordering seasonal items.
Knowing the appropriate markdown percentage allows you to compensate for lower gross sales in your bottom line, helping you to narrow down the sales results in your monthly profit and loss report. While both discounts and markdowns reduce the amount of profit for the item sold, there remains a significant difference between a discount and a markdown. A discount is given because of who the customer is, i.e. employee, loyal customer, senior citizen, etc.
What is markup cancellation?
A markdown cancellation occurs when a previously announced markdown is terminated or reduced in scope. This can mean that an existing markdown now applies to fewer products or services.
Good inventory control is critical to ensuring an adequate level of stock is on hand for the number of sales being generated. Having too much inventory or the wrong type during certain periods can slow your cash flow and reduce profits with too many markdowns.
The worst thing about using too many markdowns to generate sales is that it opens a trap to long-term use. Owners bring in merchandise that has a very high initial markup with the plan of offering big markdowns, but they feel the initial price will cover most happenings.
The Eventuality Of Markdowns
Perhaps the color was wrong; perhaps there was a different “hot” item that was popular (think of the Tickle Me Elmo toys from Christmases past). If mistakes are minimal, the effect of moving excess inventory is also minimal. But, if the buyer makes too many mistakes, deeper markdowns to move higher quantities of merchandise cut deeply into profits.
A discount is usually, but not always, a percent off the retail price. A markdown is a reduction in price that is usually due to merchandise issues.
Then the loyal customers see the deep markdowns and begin to wonder just how much the merchandise is really worth. Other customers begin to frequent the store-those driven completely by bottom-line pricing. Now the owner is forced to cut costs and, therefore, amenities such as outstanding customer service. The number of sales a retail store makes may also influence its profit margin.
Discounts and Markdowns: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Additionally, a 1 percent margin on a $50,000 purchase yields a $500 profit. The catch is the time and effort it takes to gather and verify all costs.
Therefore, maintain the value of your store, your reputation and your merchandise. More and more I see retailers falling into the trap of using markdowns as a pricing strategy.