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Holding cost

Last updated September 22, 2023

What is holding cost?

Holding cost, also known as carrying cost, refers to the expenses associated with storing and maintaining inventory or assets over a certain period of time. It’s essentially the cost incurred by a business or individual for keeping goods or assets in stock until they are sold or utilized. Holding costs are an important consideration in inventory management and supply chain optimization, as they contribute to the overall cost structure of a business and can impact profitability.

What types of holding costs exist?

Holding costs include various expenses, such as:

  • Storage costs which include expenses related to warehouse or storage facility rental, utilities, insurance, and security.
  • Depreciation costs as stored goods are subject to deterioration or obsolescence, leading to a decrease of their value over time.
  • Insurance premiums are often necessary to protect against potential losses due to theft, damage, or other unforeseen events.
  • Opportunity cost which refers to the potential income or benefits that could have been gained if the funds tied up in inventory were invested elsewhere.
  • Labor costs refer to expenses related to personnel who manage, handle, or monitor the inventory, including wages and benefits.

What techniques can businesses use to manage holding costs?

Businesses can employ several techniques to effectively manage holding costs and optimize their inventory management practices. Here are some key techniques:

  • Economic Order Quantity (EOQ): EOQ is a formula-based approach that helps businesses determine the optimal order quantity that minimizes the total cost of holding and ordering inventory. By finding the balance between holding costs and ordering costs, businesses can reduce excess inventory and associated holding expenses.
  • ABC classification: ABC analysis category inventory into three classes based on their value and importance. This approach helps allocate resources more efficiently, focusing on reducing holding costs for high-value items.
  • Safety stock optimization: Safety stock is extra inventory held to account for variability in demand or supply. By accurately forecasting demand and lead times, businesses can optimize safety stock levels, reducing excess inventory and associated holding costs.
  • Demand forecasting: Accurate demand forecasting helps businesses anticipate customer demand and plan their inventory levels accordingly. This reduces the risk of overstocking, which can lead to higher holding costs.


Holding costs impact a business’s profitability and operational efficiency. Balancing inventory levels to minimize holding costs while meeting customer demand is crucial for financial success.

Holding costs influence decisions about how much inventory to order, when to reorder, and when to sell. Businesses aim to minimize holding costs while avoiding stockouts that could lead to lost sales.

Holding costs cannot be completely eliminated, as some level of inventory is necessary for most businesses. However, through effective inventory management strategies, businesses can minimize these costs and make them more manageable.