What is a Good Inventory Turnover Ratio?

Today, we will deal with a very common question – What is a Good Inventory Turnover Ratio? This question scratches the minds of a retailer or trader, manufacturer, financial analysts, students of the commerce and finance streams etc.

Inventory turnover ratio of 5 for A Ltd means the inventory of A Ltd is sold and replenished 5 times a year on an average.

What is a Good Inventory Turnover Ratio?

Obvious Answer: As high as possible.

The obvious answer may not always be a correct answer. I will give you some reasons for it. Or in other words, I will show you what can go wrong when you have a high inventory turnover ratio. There are various ways by which you can increase the turnover ratio.


By allowing heavy discounts, you can increase sales significantly and in turn the inventory turnover ratio too. But, we tend to forget that our objective of running a business is not sales maximization but it is profit maximization. Are we really achieving it by our action of discounting? Let’s check with an example.

Assume you are selling an Item X at $15 and cost of it is $ 10. In the normal course, you are able to sell 100 items in a month. You thought you should increase the turnover of this item and decided to offer a discount of $3 (~ 20% on sales). And, you were able to more than double the turnover i.e. 220. Look at the end results.

Before Discount After Discount
Particulars Rate Qty Value Rate Qty Value
Sales    15.00    100.00    1,500.00    12.00    220.00    2,640.00
Cost    10.00    100.00    1,000.00    10.00    220.00    2,200.00
Profit  500.00       440.00

Your strategy to offer discount worked absolutely well in terms of increasing the sales numbers. But, the profits decreased. This shows that just increasing turnover would seldom make any sense. Let’s look at another table below for an optimal level of discount that would keep the focus on maximizing profit and yet improve inventory turnover.

Discount 0.0% 5.0% 10.0% 12.5% 15.0% 17.5% 20.0%
Price 15.0 14.3 13.5 13.1 12.8 12.4 12.0
Increase in Sales 0.0% 25.0% 75.0% 100.0% 110.0% 115.0% 120.0%
Qty 100.0 125.0 175.0 200.0 210.0 215.0 220.0
Profit 500.0 531.3 612.5 625.0 577.5 510.6 440.0

We see that we offered a 20% discount to achieve a sales 220 units but resulted in overall profit decrease by 60 (500-440). If the discount were 12.5% making the sales at 200 units, we would have made a profit of $625, an increase of $125 from the current $500. We noticed here that with lesser sales, we had more profit. Therefore, it is important to strike a balance between the turnover ratio and profitability.

What is a Good Inventory Turnover Ratio

Stock Shelf Life

Another very crucial factor to take care of is stock shelf life. In the above example, the priority was profitability first and then turn over till the last piece of stock. When you know that the stock will be a dead stock or will become obsolete, the priority changes after a point of time to sales first and profitability later. Suppose if the product is milk that will perish in 4 days and you are sitting on the 3rd-day end. Priority will change if you have more stock than what you can sell in the 4th day. Here, on the 4th day, you should even sell the milk at half its cost to recover the invested capital. Else, you are on the risk of losing your capital, leave the thoughts of profit.

Holding Costs / Carrying Costs

Both holding and carrying costs of inventory impacts the decision relating to inventory. Whether to hold or move with lower profitability. Inventory holding costs increase when the turnover is low and decreases when the turnover is high. Take an example of warehouse rent. Suppose you have taken on rent a warehouse @ $10000 per month and you sell water purifiers @ $1000 and its cost price is $920. Your contribution per purifier is $80. Recalling the concepts of marginal costing,

Breakeven sales = $10000/$80 = 125 Units.

This means if you sell 125 units, your per unit cost of warehouse rent would be $80. To earn out of your venture, you need to sell a minimum of 125 units. If you sell, 1000 units, your per unit holding cost is only $10. Although to sell more, you may have to compromise on the margin either through discount or additional marketing. Similar to the example of the discount above, you need to establish an optimum solution.


In essence, the question “what is a good inventory turnover?” can be best answered as below:

A good inventory turnover ratio is one which sustains

  1. Profitability
  2. Saves stock from becoming dead stock
  3. Optimizes Holding Costs / Carrying Costs

If you think, I have missed something, please add in the comments below.

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

Sanjay Borad is the founder & CEO of eFinanceManagement. He is passionate about keeping and making things simple and easy. Running this blog since 2009 and trying to explain "Financial Management Concepts in Layman's Terms".



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