What Is Sales Price Variance?

Sales price variance is the difference between the price at which a business expects to sell its products or services and what it actually sells them for. Sales price variances are said to be either "favorable," or sold for a higher-than-targeted price, or "unfavorable" when they sell for less than the targeted or standard price.

Key Takeaways

  • Sales price variance refers to the difference between a business's expected price of a product or service and its actual sales price. It can be used to determine which products contribute most to the total sales revenue.
  • A favorable sales price variance means a company received a higher-than-expected selling price on its goods, often due to fewer competitors, aggressive sales and marketing campaigns, or improved product differentiation.
  • Unfavorable sales price variances, selling for less than the targeted price, stem from increased competition, falling demand for a given product, or a price decrease mandated by some type of regulatory authority.

Understanding Sales Price Variance

The sales price variance can reveal which products contribute the most to total sales revenue and shed insight on other products that may need to be reduced in price. If a product sells extremely well at its standard price, a company may even consider slightly raising the price, especially if other sellers are charging a higher unit price.

Large and small businesses alike prepare monthly budgets that show forecasted sales and expenses for upcoming periods. These budgets integrate historical experience, anticipated economic conditions with respect to demand, anticipated competitive dynamics with respect to supply, new marketing initiatives undertaken by the firms, and new product or service launches to take place.

A comprehensive budget will use a set of standardized prices and break out expected sales for each individual product or service offering, with a further breakdown of expected sales quantity, and then roll those figures into a top-line sales revenue number. After the sales results come in for a month, the business will enter the actual sales figures next to the budgeted sales figures and line up results for each product or service.

It is unlikely that a business will have sales results that exactly match budgeted sales, so either favorable or unfavorable variances will appear in another column. These variances are important to keep track of because they provide information for the business owner or manager on where the business is successful and where it is not.

A poorly selling product line, for example, must be addressed by management, or it could be dropped altogether. A briskly selling product line, on the other hand, could induce the manager to increase its selling price, manufacture more of it, or both.

The formula is:

Sales Price Variance = ( AP   SP ) ×  Units Sold where: AP = Actual selling price SP = Standard price \begin{aligned} &\text{Sales Price Variance} = (\text{AP}\ -\ \text{SP}) \times\text{ Units Sold}\\ &\textbf{where:}\\ &\text{AP} = \text{Actual selling price}\\ &\text{SP} = \text{Standard price} \end{aligned} Sales Price Variance=(AP  SP)× Units Soldwhere:AP=Actual selling priceSP=Standard price

Sales Price Variance Example

Let's say a clothing store has 50 shirts that it expects to sell for $20 each, which would bring in $1,000. The shirts are sitting on the shelves and not selling very quickly, so the store chooses to discount them to $15 each.

The store ends up selling all 50 shirts at the $15 price, bringing in a gross sales total of $750. The store's sales price variance is the $1,000 standard or expected sales revenue minus $750 actual revenue received, for a difference of $250. This means the store will have less profit than it expected to earn.