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# How to Calculate Net Sales: 10 Steps with Pictures

August 2, 2024
Bill Kimball

The direct costs portion of the income statement is where net sales can be found. Net income is gross profit minus all other expenses and costs and other income and revenue sources that are not included in gross income. Some costs subtracted from gross profit to arrive at net income include interest on debt, taxes, and operating expenses or overhead costs. For fiscal year 2023, the company reported \$46.3 billion in revenue and had a cost of sales of \$36.4 billion. Therefore, as specified in its financial statements, the company had a gross profit of \$9.9 billion. Gross profit assesses a company’s ability to earn a profit while managing its production and labor costs.

## Key Differences

1. Furthermore, net credit sales also take into account sales return and sales allowances.
2. If the sale price of your product is \$100, then your gross sales for the year are \$5 million.
3. It’s important to note that gross profit and net income are just two of the profitability metrics available to determine how well a company is performing.
4. In order to record sales numbers manually, you’ll need to add your gross sales and then subtract returns, allowances, and discounts from that total.
5. It’s important that all sales adjustments are properly accounted for.

The accounting effect of this would be an increase in the sales returns account and a decrease in the accounts receivable account. For companies using accrual accounting, they are booked when a transaction takes place. For companies using cash accounting they are booked when cash is received. Some companies may not have any costs that will require a net sales calculation but many companies do. Sales returns, allowances, and discounts are the three main costs that can affect net sales.

## Deductions

It’s important that all deductions and allowances be calculated accurately, as they directly affect your gross profit. However, your sales allowances and deductions should not include cost of goods sold, which is subtracted separately from your net sales total. Specifically, the revenue reduction is displayed in the books as a credit to accounts receivable and a debit to sales allowances. As mentioned earlier, gross sales are the total goods and services sold to your customers during a specific period of time. As per the accrual system of accounting gross sales are the total dollar amount of invoices you send to your customers to request payment.

## Net Sales and the Income Statement

Net sales are also the starting point to finding other important figures. Once calculated, you can deduct the cost of goods sold (COGS) from your net sales to find gross profits. Knowing your net sales means understanding your company’s true revenue. As mentioned earlier, net sales are nothing but gross sales less sales returns, allowances, and discounts. This figure is important for various stakeholders such as investors and owners. Net sales is the sum of a company’s gross sales minus its returns, allowances, and discounts.

Sales Returns are the product items that buyers return to you as a seller to take a full refund of such goods. Calculating your company’s net sales is crucial for multiple reasons. It can help you determine problems with the way you handle customers, learn where your company stands in terms of finances, and more. Below, we dig into three ways net sales help business leaders spot areas of opportunity and make better decisions. If you’re running a company, you should have a thorough understanding of net sales and how they’re calculated.

## Net sales vs. gross sales: What’s the difference?

Now, let’s consider the sales return component of the Net Sales. Different types of businesses allow for varying amounts for sales return. For instance, a manufacturing unit would have more sales return relative to a small retail store. If you’re good at math and have all the required information readily available, you can calculate your net sales in a few minutes.

If a business has any returns, allowances, or discounts then adjustments are made to identify and report net sales. Companies that sell goods and services on credit might also include the net credit purchases—also called total net payables—in this section of their financial statements. Net sales are the total sales revenue of a company made over a specific period of time (month, quarter, or year) after deducting sales allowances, discounts, returns, and taxes. As opposed to gross sales, which don’t include any deductions, net sales are the filtered version of a company’s income. That’s why they’re a better indication of a company’s financial situation and profitability. Your company’s sales represent amounts you are paid for selling a product or service.

EBIT is important because it reflects a company’s profitability without the cost of debt or taxes, which would normally be included in net income. If gross profit is positive for the quarter, it doesn’t necessarily mean a company is profitable. For example, a company could be saddled with too much debt, resulting in high interest expenses. These can wipe out gross profit and lead to a net loss (or negative net income). Net income is far more helpful in determining the financial position of a business. But even net income is limited in that it is only useful for evaluating one company’s performance from year to year.

Gross profit helps to show how efficient a company is at generating profit from producing its goods and services. Business owners and managers use gross profit information to assess the profitability of their core business operations. It’s important that all sales adjustments are properly accounted for. For example, if you have sales of \$100,000 and returns and allowances of \$25,000, your net sales amount is \$75,000. Net sales depict a company’s income to a truer extent since deductions are already made in the calculation.

It is important to record both sales and the purchase return journal entry when calculating net sales if this occurs. On the income statement, it is part of the equation for gross profit. Additionally, it influences operating income, which is equal to gross profit minus operating expenses. Companies should report their net and gross sales in the income statement to be most transparent. This provides a clearer outlook for stakeholders than if only the net were reported. Sales allowance is a grant that you provide as a seller to your customer.

Now that your contra accounts have been created, you can record your sales journal entry for the following sales transactions. Applicable mainly to businesses that sell products, service businesses rarely have to worry about gross sales and net sales, with only an occasional discount or allowance given. Only the accounts receivable account and cash generated from it are utilized. Both of these values are relevant, so while the variable of interest is not directly mentioned, it is present indirectly in two ways. First, take the gross sales, then subtract allowances, discounts, and returns.

A contra-revenue account deducts items like discounts and returns from a company’s total revenue to obtain the entity’s net revenue. Net sales minus the cost of goods sold is the gross margin of your business. It refers to the revenue that remains after considering the direct costs related to the manufacturing of products or services that you sell. If a company provides full disclosure of its gross sales vs. net sales it can be a point of interest for external analysis. Net income, on the other hand, represents the income or profit remaining after all expenses have been subtracted from revenue.

Sellers don’t account for a discount unless a customer pays early so notations must be retroactive. These companies allow a buyer to return an item within a certain number of days for a full refund. This can create some complexity in financial statement reporting. The net sales your business makes can tell you a lot about its financial health over the years. It gives you a clear idea of how well your company converts sales to profit and how effectively your sales team is managing customers. In a different example, Macy’s reported all components needed as part of the Q report for the period ending Oct. 28, 2023.

For example, a company in the manufacturing industry would likely have COGS listed. In contrast, a company in the service industry would not have COGS, instead, their costs might be listed under operating expenses. For example, companies often invest their cash in short-term investments, which is considered a form of income. However, some companies might assign a portion of their fixed costs used in production and report it based on each unit produced—called absorption costing. For example, say a manufacturing plant produced 5,000 automobiles in one quarter, and the company paid \$15,000 in rent for the building. Under absorption costing, \$3 in costs would be assigned to each automobile produced.

It’s important to note that gross profit and net income are just two of the profitability metrics available to determine how well a company is performing. For example, operating profit is a company’s profit before interest and taxes are deducted, which is why it’s referred to as earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT). We can see from the COGS items listed above that gross profit mainly includes variable costs—or the costs that fluctuate depending on production output. Typically, gross profit doesn’t include fixed costs, which are the costs incurred regardless of the production output. For example, some fixed costs are salaries (but not wages), rent, utilities, and insurance. For instance, inadequate tracking of net sales can lead to over-inflated revenue totals, a possible overpayment on taxes, and inaccurate financial statements.

In net sales, the contra account (deductions) is designed to reduce gross sales. Contra accounts keep your accounting records clean by showing how your company arrived at the net sales figure on reports. Once you deduct sales returns, discounts, and allowances from gross sales, the remaining figure is your net sales. Now, you need to record the net sales in your income statement. Typically, a firm records gross sales followed by allowances and discounts. Sales returns are goods that your customers return due to poor quality or damage.