Inventory Accounting At Wal Mart Stores

1130 words - 5 pages

From the annual reports we can conclude that Wal-Mart operates its stores as mass discount retailers, carrying between 60,000 and 90,000 different merchandise items in each store. Wal-Mart purchases more than $22 billion in merchandise, turning its inventory over as often as 4.5 times per year. Sam Club carries between 3,500 and 5,000 different merchandise items, acquiring more than $2.6 billion in merchandise. Wal Marts operations grew from 2003 to 2005. For example, the number of Wal-Mart stores increased and the number of Sam's stores increased. WalMart utilized an extensive distribution and tracking system to maintain optimal inventories at each store. They use the retail last-in, ...view middle of the document...

Forty-five days prior to conducting a physical inventory in one of its stores, Wal-Mart's internal audit department sends the store a preparation package, which included instructions on how to prepare for the physical count. Each physical count is then conducted by a team of independent counters (18 to 40 persons) and representatives from Wal-Mart's loss prevention department (1 to 2 persons), internal audit department (1 to 3 persons), and operations division (1 to 2 persons). Wal-Mart's independent auditors, Ernst & Young, also sent representatives to randomly selected physical counts to test their accuracy. The independent counters generally counted every inventory item. The results of the physical count were then reconciled with the book inventory. The reconciliations is reviewed by Wal-Mart's internal audit department. Generally, Wal-Mart does not record the results of a physical inventory in its books until the following month.Sam's Club conducs its physical inventories in the same manner except that physical counts are usually taken twice a year and recorded the very next day. Sam's also periodically conducted item audits, counting the goods on hand for a particular merchandise unit and recording those results the next day. The physical inventories of both Wal-Mart and Sam's usually revealed shrinkage.Shrinkage (or overage) is the difference between the inventory determined from the perpetual inventory records and the amount of inventory actually on hand. Because shrinkage reduces profits, WalMart has devoted extensive resources to monitoring and mitigating shrinkage. There are many causes of shrinkage, including employee theft, customer theft, vendor theft, damage, accounting and recording errors, errors in marking retail prices, cash register errors, markdowns taken and not recorded, errors in accounting for customer returns, and errors in accounting for vendor receipts and returns.Because Wal Mart does not conduct a physical inventory at year-end, its perpetual inventory records do not account for any shrinkage that may have occurred during the period between the date of the last physical inventory and the taxable year-end. The parties refer to this period as the stub period. Left unadjusted, the book records could overstate income because the stub period shrinkage results in a decrease to ending inventory,...

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