Sales Volume Variance

Learning Outcomes

  • Compute sales volume variances

The sales volume variance is computed by comparing our original static budget to the budget we would have made if we had somehow known in advance exactly how many units we would sell. In other words, for GelSoft, we would compare the static budget to our 180,000 recalculated (flexible) budget.

Flexible Budget Performance Report
Flexible Budget Sales Volume Variance F or U Static Budget Budgeted Amounts per Unit
Units           180,000         172,405
Sales Revenue $   6,120,000 $   258,230 F $  5,861,770 $     34.00
Variable Costs       3,362,400 $   141,875 U 3,220,525 $     18.68
Contribution Margin       2,757,600 $   116,355 F 2,641,245
Fixed Costs   2,452,694 N/A 2,452,694
Operating Income $     304,906Double line $   116,355 FDouble line $    188,551Double line


What we see is that sales in dollars were more than a quarter of a million better than expected because of the volume increase, despite the slightly lower average sales price, so we have a favorable sales volume variance.

However, as we would expect, the increased volume carries with it an increase in overall variable costs. Not per unit, because we are using the original budget number for the per-unit variable costs, but total variable costs increase as total units increase. That creates an unfavorable overall variance between the original (static) budget and the recalculated (flexible) budget. It’s unfavorable because it reduces the bottom line.

Fixed costs would have been budgeted the same regardless of sales volume unless we knew that we were exceeding the relevant range for those projected fixed costs, so there won’t be a variance there.

Overall, we had a favorable sales volume variance equal to the additional contribution margin. We sold an additional 7,595 units, and each one contributes $15.32 to fixed costs ($34 sales price minus $18.68 variable costs).

7595 X $15.32 = $116,355 (rounded to the nearest whole dollar)

Next, we’ll combined the fixed budget variance and the sales volume variance into one performance report, but first, check your understanding of the sales volume variance.

Practice Question