Layaway sales

Overview of Layaway Sales Accounting

Retailers routinely offer layaway sales arrangements to their customers, where customers are allowed to set aside specific items for customers, usually in exchange for a layaway deposit. The retailer retains custody of the goods until the customer pays the remaining balance on the goods. This layaway plan is particularly useful for lower-income customers, who may not have sufficient funds to pay for the full amount of a purchase at one time.

If the customer does not complete the purchase, then the retailer may be allowed to retain the deposit.

According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the seller cannot recognize revenue related to a layaway situation until it has delivered the held goods to the customer. Until that point, any cash received from the customer should be recorded as a liability.

IFRS Accounting for Layaway Sales

The seller only recognizes revenue when it delivers the goods. However, if the seller’s historical experience shows that most lay away transactions are converted into sales, then it can recognize revenue when it receives a significant deposit, provided that the goods are on hand, identified and ready for delivery.