The cost of goods available for sale is the total recorded cost of beginning finished goods or merchandise inventory in an accounting period, plus the cost of any finished goods produced or merchandise added during the period. Thus, the calculation of the cost of goods available for sale is:
Beginning sellable inventory + Finished goods produced + Merchandise acquired
The cost of any freight needed to acquire merchandise (known as "freight in") is typically considered a part of this cost.
Under the periodic inventory system, the ending inventory balance is then subtracted from the cost of goods available for sale to arrive at the cost of goods sold (which appears in the income statement).
The cost of goods available for sale tends to be somewhat overstated, since it may include obsolete or damaged goods that are not really "available for sale." In a well-run accounting department, a reserve for obsolete inventory will be used that reduces the cost of goods available for sale by an estimate of goods that may not be sellable.
As an example of the cost of goods available for sale, ABC International has $1,000,000 of sellable inventory on hand at the beginning of January. During the month, it acquires $750,000 of merchandise, and pays $15,000 in freight costs to ship the merchandise from suppliers to its warehouse. Thus, the total cost of goods available for sale at the end of January (prior to any calculation of the cost of goods sold) is $1,765,000.