Retail Inventory: Managing the Canary in the Coal Mine

by Ananth Raman, Vishal Gaur, Saravanan Kesavan



Retail inventory is a statistic that is closely watched by retailers as well as their investors, lenders, and suppliers. Retailers not only benefit from inventory, but also bear the cost of excess inventory. Investors, lenders, and suppliers interpret this statistic for signs of the retailer’s health, future sales prospects, and impending costs. This article synthesizes the perspectives of investors, lenders, and suppliers on inventory. Moreover, the article shows that inventory turns, a commonly used metric to identify excess inventory, has important limitations that reduce its utility for all these stakeholders. It then presents a new metric, adjusted inventory turns, which can be effectively utilized by all stakeholders to assess whether a retailer is carrying too much or too little inventory.

California Management Review

Berkeley-Haas's Premier Management Journal

Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

Learn more
Follow Us