How to Calculate Inventory Turnover for a Restaurant

Running a restaurant can be an exciting, yet daunting endeavour. One of the key measures that every restaurant owner needs to master is inventory turnover. If you’re not sure what inventory turnover is or how to calculate it, you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we’ll provide a step-by-step approach to calculating inventory turnover for your restaurant. So, let’s dive in and learn together!

Understanding the Inventory

Running a successful restaurant requires a lot of moving parts, and one of the most important aspects is managing your inventory. Your inventory is the lifeblood of your restaurant, and it’s crucial to keep track of it in order to keep your business running smoothly.

To manage inventory effectively, you need to:

  • Understand what your inventory consists of, including food, beverages, utensils, crockery, and cleaning supplies
  • Track your inventory accurately with inventory management software
  • Implement a solid system for managing inventory, such as regular physical counts and processes for checking in new deliveries and rotating stock
  • Strike a balance between having enough stock to meet demand and avoiding excess inventory

By doing so, your restaurant will run smoothly and efficiently.

Inventory Turnover: What Is It, Anyway?

What’s all this about inventory turnover, then? Well, to put it simply, it’s a measure that tells you how efficiently your restaurant is using and replacing its inventory.

Think of it like a speedometer for your stock – the faster your inventory ‘turns over’, the better. That’s because a high turnover rate typically indicates you’re selling your products quickly, which can mean you’re using your inventory wisely and potentially bringing in a tidy profit.

Inventory turnover is particularly important in the restaurant industry because it can provide insights into how effectively you’re managing your stock. Consider this: are you hoarding heaps of ingredients, only for them to spoil and go to waste? Or, perhaps you’re regularly running out of key items, leaving your customers disgruntled when their favourite dishes are off the menu?

Well, by keeping a close eye on your inventory turnover, you can make sure you strike just the right balance.

It’s clear, then, that inventory turnover isn’t just about numbers and calculations. It’s also about making sure your customers are satisfied, your waste is minimised, and your profits are maximised.

So, let’s dig a little deeper and discover how you can calculate and optimise your inventory turnover to help your restaurant thrive.

Diving Into the Calculation

Now, let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into the nitty-gritty of calculating inventory turnover. Don’t worry; it’s simpler than it sounds!

The equation involves dividing your cost of goods sold (COGS) by your average inventory for a set period. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But let’s break it down a bit further.

Understanding COGS

COGS is essentially the total cost of all goods used or sold in your restaurant. This includes everything that goes into the preparation and presentation of your menu items.

To compute the COGS, you’ll need to tot up the cost of all your food and beverage items, as well as all additional costs such as labour and overheads directly involved in producing these menu items.

Calculating Average Inventory

Next up, let’s talk about average inventory. This one’s easy – it’s the sum of your starting and ending inventory, divided by two. This will provide an average for the time period you’re scrutinising.

Putting It All Together: An Example

For example, let’s say your restaurant’s COGS for January was £50,000, and your average inventory for the month was £10,000. In this case, you’d divide £50,000 by £10,000, yielding an inventory turnover ratio of 5.

This suggests that your restaurant’s inventory was sold and replenished five times during January.

The Importance of Tracking Over Time

Regularly tracking this ratio can help you identify trends and make informed inventory management decisions. For instance, if your ratio is consistently low, it might be time to reassess your ordering practices or rethink your menu to boost sales.

So, there you have it. Its calculation is all about COGS divided by average inventory. By using this formula and keeping a close eye on your turnover ratio, you can fine-tune your inventory management and increase your restaurant’s profitability.

Factors Affecting Inventory Turnover

Inventory turnover doesn’t exist in a vacuum; several factors can influence it. Let’s explore them in a bit more detail, shall we?

Menu Design

One of the primary factors is the design of your menu. It’s like a puzzle, isn’t it? If you’ve got an array of items on your menu, you may find it challenging to keep everything in stock, let alone sell them speedily. That delectable duck dish might sound fancy, but if it requires unusual ingredients that aren’t used elsewhere, it may be tying up your inventory.

On the flip side, having a focused, pared-down menu centred around a few key items can facilitate a more rapid turnover of your inventory. Consider that succulent steak dish that’s easy to prep and sells like hotcakes. It helps keep your inventory moving, doesn’t it?

Ordering Process

The way you order inventory is another crucial factor. Imagine you’re not ordering enough of what you need. You risk running out of popular items and disappointing your customers, thus losing sales. Conversely, if you’re going overboard and ordering too much, you could end up with an overflow of stock that takes ages to shift. It’s like walking a tightrope, finding that perfect balance, but it’s vital for enhancing this key ratio.


Don’t forget about the seasons. They can play a huge part in your inventory turnover. Take a beachside restaurant as an example; you’ll likely see a boom in sales during the sun-soaked summer months and a downturn during the frosty winter period. Understanding these seasonal ebbs and flows can help you tailor your inventory levels and ordering process. It’s about riding the wave of demand, isn’t it?

Customer Experience

Lastly, your inventory turnover can directly affect the customer experience. Imagine this: your customers love your signature burger, but you’re always running out. Frustration brews, and before you know it, they’re dining elsewhere. On the other hand, if you manage to keep your inventory fresh and well-stocked, customers are likely to have a stellar experience and return for more.

It’s clear then, that inventory turnover is a key metric for restaurant owners. By understanding and optimising the factors affecting it, you can enhance your financial performance and make your customers’ dining experience a delight.

Isn’t it fascinating how these various elements come together to impact your turnover ratio.

Understanding and managing these factors can indeed set your restaurant on a path to financial success and customer satisfaction.

Calculating Inventory Turnover for Multiple Locations

Running multiple locations and curious about inventory turnover? You’re in the right place. You see, calculating it for each location separately or as a whole offers unique insights. Separate calculations provide individual location performance, while combined calculations paint a broader picture of your restaurant chain’s performance.

The Significance of Calculating Inventory Turnover for Multiple Locations

It may sound a bit daunting, calculating this ratio across various sites, but it’s an essential step for effective inventory management. By doing so, you can spot which locations are top performers and which need a bit more TLC. This data can aid your decision-making when it comes to resource allocation and inventory level optimisation.

Considering Each Location’s Unique Characteristics

Every restaurant location is different, and it’s important to consider each one’s unique characteristics when crunching the numbers. For instance, some locations might see higher demand for certain items, leading to quicker turnover rates. Other locations might be a bit tight on storage space, necessitating frequent deliveries and lower inventory levels.

Moreover, external factors, such as seasonality and local events, are worth considering. For example, a restaurant near a bustling tourist attraction might see a spike in demand during the peak tourist season, leading to higher inventory turnover.

The Process of Calculating Inventory Turnover for Multiple Locations

Once you’ve grasped each location’s unique characteristics, you can start calculating the inventory turnover on a location-by-location basis. This entails determining the cost of goods sold (COGS) for each location and dividing it by that location’s average inventory level.

Understanding Individual Location Performance

Calculating inventory turnover for each location individually can unveil valuable insights. You might discover one location has a significantly higher turnover rate than the others, suggesting it’s more efficient at managing inventory. Such information can help you identify best practices and implement them across all locations.

A Comprehensive View of Your Restaurant Chain’s Performance

Conversely, calculating this ratio for all locations collectively offers a comprehensive view of your restaurant chain’s performance. It can help you spot trends and patterns across locations, informing strategic inventory management decisions.

Understanding the Impact of Low Inventory Turnover on Your Restaurant

Understanding the impact of low inventory turnover on your restaurant is essential. It can significantly impact your restaurant’s success, and it’s crucial to comprehend how this can affect your business. Armed with this knowledge, you can implement strategies to mitigate any negative effects.

The Financial Strain

One of the primary impacts of low inventory turnover is the financial burden it can impose on your restaurant. When your turnover is low, it necessitates storing more items. This situation increases overhead costs, complicating financial management and possibly leading to cash flow problems if not handled carefully.

How it Affects Food Quality

Don’t underestimate the impact low inventory turnover can have on food quality. A surplus of inventory can quickly lead to spoilage, resulting in food waste and a dip in quality. This can detrimentally affect guest satisfaction, potentially leading to negative reviews and a drop in patronage.

Competing in the Market with Low Inventory Turnover

Moreover, low inventory turnover can significantly affect your ability to stay competitive in the restaurant scene. Excess inventory might force you to sell items at discounted prices to clear stock, impacting your profit margins. This situation can make it challenging to compete with other restaurants and may even contribute to a decline in your market share.

Factoring in Seasonal Variations in Inventory Turnover

The effect of seasonal changes on inventory turnover cannot be overstated. Understanding this relationship is crucial for optimising your restaurant’s inventory management throughout the year. Let’s delve deeper into the subject.

The Seasonal Surge: Peak Seasons

During peak seasons, your restaurant might experience an increase in sales volume, leading to heightened demand for inventory. Festive periods, local events or the summer months—when more people tend to dine out—can all contribute to this seasonal surge. Consequently, your inventory turnover rate might be higher during these times, reflecting faster sales and more rapid replenishment of your stock.

The Off-season Slump: Lower Sales and Inventory Turnover

Conversely, in off-peak periods or off-seasons, sales volume typically decreases. This could be due to various factors such as colder weather, when patrons might prefer staying in, or after the holiday season when dining out might decrease. During these periods, your inventory might move more slowly than usual, leading to a lower inventory turnover rate. Slow-moving inventory, if not managed correctly, can increase storage costs and risk spoilage.

Strategic Inventory Management Across Seasons

Understanding this during different seasons is a vital part of making informed decisions about your inventory management. This knowledge allows you to predict demand, informing when to purchase more stock, when to maintain current inventory levels, and when to sell or reduce inventory.

For instance, if you know a local festival in July consistently leads to a sales surge, you might choose to increase your inventory in the run-up. On the other hand, if January historically proves to be a slow month, you might decide to reduce your inventory after the December rush to avoid surplus stock and unnecessary storage costs.

Strategies for Optimising Inventory Turnover

There are several proven strategies for optimising this key ratio in your restaurant:

  • Use inventory management software to monitor your inventory levels, streamline ordering, and avoid overstocking.
  • Implement FIFO (first in, first out) inventory management, which ensures that the oldest items are sold first, avoiding the problem of inventory spoilage.
  • Regularly review your menu and make sure it’s optimised for your target market, cost-effective, and profitable.
  • Carry out market research to gauge customer demand and adjust your inventory levels accordingly.
  • Develop relationships with multiple suppliers to ensure you always have access to high-quality ingredients at competitive prices.
  • Rotate your menu to keep it fresh and exciting for your customers. This can encourage them to visit often, leading to more sales and higher inventory turnover.


Calculating inventory turnover is an essential business practice for restaurants. It provides insights into how well your restaurant is managing its inventory, setting prices, and meeting customer needs. By following the guidelines presented in this article and using the strategies for optimising inventory turnover, your restaurant can increase its profitability, improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and operate more efficiently.


Why is a high inventory turnover rate important for a restaurant?

A high inventory turnover rate means that a restaurant is selling its products efficiently. This can lead to increased profitability and less wastage of food.

How can I improve my restaurant’s inventory turnover rate?

Improving the ordering process, using inventory management software, and strategic menu planning can help improve a restaurant’s inventory turnover rate.

How does the reliability of suppliers affect inventory turnover?

If suppliers can’t deliver on time or provide the correct quantities, it can cause delays and discrepancies in inventory, affecting the turnover rate.

Can seasonal changes impact inventory turnover?

Yes, seasonal changes can influence customer demand for certain dishes, which can impact inventory turnover.

What is the role of technology in managing restaurant inventory?

Technology, like inventory management software, can track inventory in real-time, alert when stock is low, and forecast future demand. It can greatly improve inventory management in restaurants.