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Gross sales Vs Net sales: Understanding Fundamental Differences



Gross sales vs Net sales

When running a business, it’s essential to keep track of your sales. Understanding the differences between gross and net sales is important for analyzing your company’s financial health.

According to the sloovi, Gross sales increased by 8% compared to the previous year, and net sales increased by 5% compared with last year. 

This blog post delves into the key difference between gross and net sales, showing what each metric is related to and why it is essential to track them both to make good decisions and achieve maximum profits.

🔑Key highlights

  • Gross sales determine the total sale of the product, whereas net sales determine the company’s remaining revenue after subtracting factors such as returns, discounts, and allowances.
  • Gross Sales are calculated using the formula: Gross Sales = Σ (Sales price per unit * Quantity sold)
  • Net sales or net revenue is the total income of a business after subtracting returns, discounts, and allowances from gross sales.
  • Net sales are calculated by: Net Sales = Gross Sales – Returns – Discounts – Allowances.
  • Tracking gross and net sales will allow your business to improve its weak areas and reach new heights.

Gross Sales Vs Net Sales: At a Glance

While gross sales show overall sales, net sales can be seen as the headline figure, which gives a more accurate picture. To understand a company’s performance, let’s find out the significant differences between gross sales and net sales:

FeatureGross salesNet sales 
DefinitionThe total value of all sales transactions for a period before any deductions.The total revenue from sales of goods or services after subtracting returns, allowances, and discounts.
UnitDollar amount (e.g., $10,000)Dollar amount (e.g., $8,500)
CalculationThe sum of all sales invoicesGross Sales – Returns & Allowances – Discounts
Focuses onOverall sales volumeActual revenue earned
Impact of Customer IssuesDoesn’t reflect customer dissatisfaction (returns) or price adjustments (discounts/allowances).It takes into account customer returns, damaged goods, and price negotiations.
Industry SignificanceMore relevant for high-volume, low-margin industries (e.g., retail) as a starting point.A more accurate measure of revenue across all industries.
Financial StatementIt is not a standalone line item, it might be used as a calculation starting point.Reported on the income statement as a critical revenue figure.
Importance for AnalysisProvides a basic understanding of sales activity.Essential for calculating profitability metrics (gross profit margin, net profit margin).

What is gross sales?

What is gross sales

The gross sales are the entire revenue that a company gets from the sale of its products or services before any refunds, discounts, and allowances are taken away. Additionally, they are what’s left from total income at the top before deducting all the costs incurred in earning such income.

How to calculate gross sales?

There are two methods of calculating gross sales:

Method 1: Sum of all sales

This approach is simply the sum of the value of all transactions you make within a particular period. Here you can review your sales proofs, invoices, or point-of-sale system after each week.

Method 2: Units sold x Sales price per unit

If you already know the number of units sold and their corresponding price per product, it is relatively easy to get a sum of gross sales by multiplying these two figures and adding them up for all products.

Formula: Gross Sales = Σ (Sales price per unit * Quantity sold)

What is net Sales?

What is net sales

‘Net sales’ or net revenue refers to the total income of a business derived by subtracting factors that decrease the gross sales, such as returns, discounts, and allowances. One of the factors is the number of sales steps you must follow for your business. The net sales are one of them.

👀 Take a look at: Sales Planning: Everything You Need to Know

How to calculate net sales?

You can calculate net sales with the following formula:

Net sales formula = Gross Sales – Returns – Discounts – Allowances


  • Gross Sales: the total value of all sales transactions before any deductions.
  • Returns: the value of products or services that customers return.
  • Discounts: the reductions in the selling price provided to customers, such as volume discounts or early payment discounts.
  • Allowances: Price reductions given to customers due to damaged goods or dissatisfaction.

Gross sales Vs net sales: Example

Companies track different sales metrics to understand their financial performance. One key metric is gross sales, which is the total revenue before any deductions. 

For example, suppose a store makes $275 in total sales in one day. However, some customers return products worth $10, and the store gives $15 in discounts. 

To find the net sales, the store subtracts the returns and discounts from the gross sales. 

So, the calculation is:

Gross sales: $275

– Returns: $10

– Discounts: $15

Net sales: $250

Net sales are the final amount after subtracting returns, discounts, and any other allowances.

Key factors impacting gross sales

Some of the key factors impacting gross sales are:

  • Discounts: Companies set up discounts for different reasons, such as to attract new customers, get rid of old stocks, or reward customers who purchase products in bulk. Likewise, discounts can elevate sales volume, but they must be arranged to help your business increase its sales.
  • Returns: When a product is returned, the company loses the sale and may have to pay extra processing costs. Similarly, high return rates significantly impact gross sales. Moreover, companies can limit returns by setting rules, selling good products, and giving exact descriptions.
  • Sales Tax: Sales tax is a tax the government imposes on selling specific goods and services businesses cannot directly control. Likewise, sales tax is the lax levied on the base selling price and collected from the customer. Similarly, sales tax is part of the total collected amount, which is included in the gross sales figure.
  • Revenue from Additional Sources: Revenue generated from other sources can also influence gross sales. This might include extended warranties, service contracts, installation fees, and even interest on customer payments. This revenue helps increase your business’s total gross sales figure.

Key factors impacting net sales

Some of the key factors impacting net sales are:

  • Deductions from Gross Sales: This category includes gross sales reductions caused by customer returns, discounts, and allowances. These deductions immediately affect the revenue recognized as net sales. Companies are always looking for ways to handle the deductions effectively to achieve the maximum net sales.
  • Operating Expenses: Operating expenses are costs related to the daily functioning of the business. They include rent, salaries, utilities, marketing, and supplies. Even though operating expenses are not subtracted from gross sales, they significantly affect net sales. They are deducted from gross profit to calculate net income.
  • Taxes and Other Liabilities: Taxes and other obligations are the business’s legal duties to the government or other organizations. Among them are income, property, and payroll taxes. These extra deductions from net profit are subtracted to get the net income. Although they do not directly affect net sales, they still influence the business profitability.
👀 Take a look at: What Is Sales Reporting? With Benefits, Steps, and Tips

Benefits of gross sales and net sales

With every sale, your business may face profit or loss; however, there are some benefits that your company gets in case of gross and net sales:

1. Benefits of Gross Sales

  • Provides a high-level view of sales activity: It provides a comprehensive summary of sales activity. Gross sales offer a fast and easy method to check total sales performance. Analyzing gross sales trends over the years enables the business to measure sales growth and find areas that need change.
  • Easy to calculate and understand: Gross sales make it easy for your business to calculate and understand its total sales, and adding total sales makes it a straightforward metric for all the people in the industry.

2. Benefits of Net Sales

  • Represents the revenue earned: Net sales clearly understand the revenues generated after subtracting returns, discounts, and allowances. This effectively reveals a more precise image of a business’s profitability.
  • Essential for financial analysis and decision-making: Through comprehending net sales, businesses can take steps toward solving pricing strategies, sales targets, budgeting, and resource allocation. Net sales are one of the leading indicators of the financial analysis that help to evaluate profitability and to compare the performance with the industry standards.

Why track both gross and net sales?

When running a business organization, you must track gross and net sales to improve your business and make it competitive in today’s market. Some of the reasons that you should track both gross and net sales are:

  • Understanding the whole picture: When the gross and net sales are tracked, the business is given a complete picture of its sales performance. Gross sales signify the initial sales activity, while net sales are the actual earnings achieved after deducting returns, discounts, and allowances.
  • Making informed decisions: Companies can make better decisions by examining gross and net sales data. They can find areas where they can improve their business by reducing the number of returns or using discounts strategically to increase their net sales and thus improve their bottom line.
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Gross and net sales seem to be the same, but they are two different things, and the business owner should know the differences between them to run a successful business. Gross sales provide a brief overview of sales activity, whereas net sales reveal the true story: the money collected from customers with their returns, discounts, and allowances subtracted from it.

The combination of these two components will provide you with a complete understanding of your sales performance, enabling you to make the right decisions. Likewise, you can find the strategies that need to be changed, such as how to return the goods or give discounts that will suit the customers and won’t be a problem for them.

Moreover, the trends can be followed, and the sales targets that are realistic and in line with the net sales, the sales targets will be the true profitability.


What is the difference between gross sales and gross margin?

The differences between gross sales and gross margin are:

FeatureGross SalesGross Margin
DefinitionThe total revenue generated from all sales before any deductions.A percentage of revenue remaining after subtracting the cost of goods sold (COGS).
UnitIt is calculated in dollar amount (e.g., $10,000)It is calculated in percentage (e.g., 50%)
CalculationTotal revenue from all sales(Gross Profit) / (Total Revenue) x 100
What it showsOverall sales performanceProfitability from core business activities
ImportanceStarting point for calculating other metricsIndicator of efficiency in converting costs into sales

What is the difference between net sales and net profit?

The differences between net sales and net profit are:

FeatureNet SalesProfit
DefinitionThe total revenue from sales of goods or services after subtracting returns, allowances, and discounts.The money remaining after all expenses are deducted from revenue.
CalculationGross Sales – Returns & Allowances – DiscountsNet Sales – Total Expenses
What it showsThe net amount of money earned from selling goods or services.The company’s financial performance after considering all costs.
ImportanceShows the top line of a company’s income statement.Indicates the company’s ability to generate a surplus after covering its expenses.

Is it okay to just look at gross sales?

No, it is not okay to look at gross sales because to ensure your business’s success, you must focus on Gross Margin, Net Sales, and Profit, including gross sales.

How do discounts affect net sales?

Discounts affect net sales by decreasing them, as they lower the revenue collected per transaction. As they are deducted from the gross sales, they lower the final net sales figure, which shows a company’s actual earnings.

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Dinesh Silwal

Dinesh Silwal is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of KrispCall. For the past few years, he has been advancing and innovating in the cloud telephony industry, using AI to enhance and improve telephony solutions, and driving KrispCall to the forefront of the field.

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