Net Sales vs Gross Sales: What you need to know

net vs. gross sales
5 minutes read
When it comes to measuring the success of a business, there are many different metrics that can be used. Two of the most important of these are net sales and gross sales.


Understanding the difference between the two, how they are calculated, and how they can be used to improve your business can make a big difference in your bottom line.

In summary, gross sales and net sales are two important metrics for measuring the success of a business. 

While gross sales provide an overview of a company’s performance, net sales offer a more accurate reflection of revenue by accounting for returns, allowances, and discounts. 

We will dive into the details of net sales and gross sales, their calculation methods, and the benefits of knowing these two values.

What are Gross Sales and Net Sales?

Gross sales refer to the total revenue generated by a business from the sale of goods or services. This includes all sales, regardless of whether they were made at full price, at a discount, or as part of a promotion

Gross sales are a measure of the overall performance of a business and are typically reported on a company’s income statement.

On the other hand, net sales refer to the total revenue generated by a business after deducting any returns, allowances, or discounts given to customers. 

Net sales are often considered to be a more accurate reflection of a company’s performance, as they account for factors that can affect revenue, such as customer returns, damaged goods, or discounts.

How to Calculate Gross Sales

Calculating gross sales is relatively straightforward. Simply add up all of the revenue generated from the sale of goods or services during a specific period, such as a day, week, or month. This can be done using sales records, cash register receipts, or other documentation.

Gross sales formula:

Gross Sales = Number of units x Unit price


A company sells 100 widgets for $10 each during the month of January. The gross sales for January would be $1,000 (100 widgets x $10).

How to Calculate Net Sales

Calculating net sales is slightly more complicated than calculating gross sales, as it requires deducting any returns, allowances, or discounts from gross sales. 

Net sales formula:

Net Sales = Gross Sales - Returns - Allowances - Discounts

Returns refer to goods that were returned to the business by customers. Allowances refer to discounts that were given to customers for damaged or defective goods. Discounts refer to any price reductions that were offered to customers, such as sales promotions or bulk discounts.


A business had gross sales of $1,000 in May, but also had $50 in returns, $25 in allowances, and $75 in discounts. The net sales for May would be $850 ($1,000 – $50 – $25 – $75).

Benefits of Knowing Gross Sales and Net Sales

Knowing your gross sales and net sales can provide valuable insights into the performance of your business. Here are a few benefits of understanding these metrics:

1. Understanding Revenue Trends

By tracking gross sales and net sales over time, you can identify trends in your business’s revenue. 

Are your sales increasing or decreasing? Are certain products or services selling better than others? 

This information can help you make informed decisions about your business’s future, such as whether to invest in new products or services.

2. Identifying Areas for Improvement

If you notice that your net sales are consistently lower than your gross sales, it may be a sign that there are issues with your business’s operations. 

For example, you may be offering too many discounts or not managing returns effectively. By identifying these areas for improvement, you can take steps to address them and increase your bottom line.

3. Comparing Performance to Industry Benchmarks

Knowing your gross sales and net sales can also help you compare your business’s performance to industry benchmarks. 

This can provide valuable insights into how your business is performing relative to your competitors and help you identify areas where you may need to improve your business processes or marketing strategies.

4. Making Informed Business Decisions

By having a clear understanding of your gross sales and net sales, you can make informed decisions about your business. 

For example, you may choose to invest in new marketing campaigns to boost your gross sales, or you may decide to tighten your returns policy to reduce the number of returns and allowances affecting your net sales.

The impact of cost of goods  (COGS) 

COGS is the cost of producing or acquiring the products or services that a business sells. It is subtracted from gross sales to arrive at gross profit, which is then used to calculate net profit. 

Understanding the relationship between COGS, gross sales, and net sales can provide important insights into a business’s profitability.

The role of taxes 

Taxes can have a significant impact on a business’s gross and net sales. Sales tax, for example, is typically added to the price of goods or services and is included in gross sales. 

However, businesses can often claim back the sales tax they paid on their purchases when they file their tax returns. 

Understanding how taxes affect gross and net sales can help businesses plan for their tax liabilities and optimize their tax strategies.

Sales returns and allowances

Sales returns and allowances can have a significant impact on a business’s net sales. Tracking these metrics can help businesses identify patterns and trends in customer behavior, such as whether certain products or services are more likely to be returned. 

By addressing the underlying causes of returns and allowances, businesses can improve customer satisfaction and reduce the negative impact on their net sales.

Promotional activities

Promotions such as discounts, coupons, and free shipping can have a significant impact on gross sales, but may also impact net sales if they are not managed effectively. 

For example, if a business offers a discount that is too steep, it may erode its profit margin and reduce its net sales. 

On the other hand, if a business offers a well-designed promotion that encourages customers to buy more, it may increase its gross sales while also improving its net sales.

The relationship with revenue growth

Gross sales are an important metric for measuring revenue growth, which is the rate at which a business’s revenue is increasing over time. By tracking gross sales over time and comparing them to industry benchmarks, businesses can identify opportunities for growth and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Final thoughts:

By understanding these metrics and how to calculate them, businesses can gain valuable insights into their revenue trends and identify areas for improvement. Ultimately, this information can help business owners make informed decisions to increase their bottom line and grow their business.


Try Onpipeline – The easy-to-use CRM. Close more deals!

30-day free trial

Your Full Name
Company Name
Business Email
Choose a password

By clicking on Start Trial, you accept our Terms and Privacy

Should you have any questions or comments, please contact us