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  • Writer's picturePeak Frameworks Team

What are Period Costs (Selling and Distribution, General and Administrative)?

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Understanding Perios Costs

Period costs are expenses that are not directly tied to the production of goods or services. They are incurred over a specific period and are essential for the overall operation of a business.

Period Cost
Source: Wallstreet Mojo

Period costs are classified into two main categories:

Selling and Distribution Costs

Selling and distribution costs are incurred when a business sells and delivers its products to customers. They include:

  • Advertising and marketing expenses: Costs associated with promoting products or services to target customers. For example, the cost of running digital marketing campaigns or airing television commercials.

  • Sales commissions and bonuses: Payments made to sales representatives based on their performance. These costs incentivize sales teams to achieve their targets.

  • Shipping and freight costs: Expenses related to shipping products to customers. This includes the cost of transportation, packaging materials, and insurance.

  • Warehousing and storage expenses: Costs associated with storing inventory. This includes rent, utilities, and maintenance costs for warehouses.

General and Administrative Costs

Administrative Cost
Source: Tally Solutions

General and administrative costs encompass the expenses required to manage the overall operations of a business. They include:

  • Salaries and wages of non-production employees: Payments made to employees who are not directly involved in production. This includes salaries for executives, administrative staff, and support personnel.

  • Rent and utilities for office spaces: Expenses related to leasing office premises, utilities such as electricity and water, and property maintenance costs.

  • Professional fees: Payments made to external professionals, such as lawyers and accountants, for their services.

  • Office supplies and equipment expenses: Costs associated with purchasing and maintaining office supplies, furniture, and equipment necessary for day-to-day operations.

Recording and Reporting Period Costs

In financial statements, period costs are recognized as expenses in the period they are incurred. They are deducted from revenues to calculate the net income.

Unlike product costs, which are capitalized and allocated to products, period costs are expensed immediately. This distinction allows for a clear separation between costs that impact the production process and costs associated with running the business.

It is important to note that period costs are not included in the cost of inventory or cost of goods sold. Instead, they are reported separately as operating expenses in the income statement.

Importance of Period Cost Analysis

Analyzing period costs provides valuable insights that aid decision-making and cost control within an organization. By understanding and effectively managing period costs, businesses can:

  • Identify areas of cost inefficiency and take appropriate measures to optimize expenses.

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of marketing and advertising strategies.

  • Monitor and control general and administrative expenses.

  • Make informed decisions regarding pricing, product mix, and resource allocation.

Limitations and Challenges of Period Cost Analysis

While period cost analysis is valuable, it also comes with limitations and challenges. Some of these include:

  • Cost allocation: Assigning period costs to specific activities or products can be subjective and challenging.

  • Difficulty in capturing intangible benefits: Some period costs, such as brand-building expenses, may not have an immediate tangible return on investment, making it challenging to quantify their value accurately.

  • Inflation and currency fluctuations: Period costs may be affected by factors beyond a company's control, such as inflation rates or exchange rate fluctuations.

To overcome these challenges, finance professionals should employ robust cost accounting systems, utilize appropriate cost allocation methods, and consider qualitative factors in their analyses.


Understanding period costs is essential for finance professionals seeking to make informed decisions in private equity, investment banking, and corporate finance. By comprehending the nature and significance of period costs, professionals can effectively manage expenses, optimize cost structures, and drive overall business performance.


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