I previously worked in a bookstore and at around this time of the year, we did an inventory of the bookstore, counting our stock and shipping back old stock to corporate. There was a term we used to describe what happened when there was a difference between our computer stock read as and what we actually had on-hand in the store. This term essentially meant "unanticipated loss of stock due either to theft, misplacement, or other reasons." What was this word?


In similar environments the word I've heard used is



  • 2
    Good one! I'd forgotten this term. Now I also recall that when working in the food service industry I would hear the term "spoilage" to refer to any food item that was not in inventory and not sold/salable (spoiled, damaged, fell on the floor, given to fellow staff... ;). – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Apr 4 '12 at 15:59
  • Sometimes it’s just plain shrink. – tchrist Apr 4 '12 at 17:54

I've heard the term inventory discrepancy used for similar situations.


I think this came up on ELU before, but I can't find the earlier question. Collectively, all missing or otherwise unsaleable stock is normally referred to as...

wastage - spoiled or damaged products [or missing stock misapppropriated/stolen by employees].

At the bottom of this dictionary.com entry it says...

Waste and wastage are to some extent interchangeable, but many people think that wastage should not be used to refer to loss resulting from human carelessness, inefficiency, etc: a waste (not a wastage) of time/money/effort etc.

...which to some extent from an accounting/stocktaking perspective absolves the company from accusations of "carelessness". Different types of business (restaurant, supermarket, bookstore, etc.) will have established acceptable levels of wastage, which it's difficult to reduce any further.


Inventory Shrinkage

or if you are talking about the actual journal entry, it could be called an Inventory Loss journal entry

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.