Principles of Accounting, Volume 2: Managerial Accounting

# 3.1Explain Contribution Margin and Calculate Contribution Margin per Unit, Contribution Margin Ratio, and Total Contribution Margin

Principles of Accounting, Volume 2: Managerial Accounting3.1 Explain Contribution Margin and Calculate Contribution Margin per Unit, Contribution Margin Ratio, and Total Contribution Margin

Before examining contribution margins, let’s review some key concepts: fixed costs, relevant range, variable costs, and contribution margin. Fixed costs are those costs that will not change within a given range of production. For example, in the current case, the fixed costs will be the student sales fee of $100. No matter how many shirts the club produces within the relevant range, the fee will be locked in at$100. The relevant range is the anticipated production activity level. Fixed costs remain constant within a relevant range. If production levels exceed expectations, then additional fixed costs will be required.

You rent a kiosk in the mall for $300 a month and use it to sell T-shirts with college logos from colleges and universities all over the world. You sell each T-shirt for$25, and your cost for each shirt is $15. You also pay your sales person a commission of$0.50 per T-shirt sold in addition to a salary of $400 per month. Construct a contribution margin income statement for two different months: in one month, assume 100 T-shirts are sold, and in the other, assume 200 T-shirts are sold. Solution ## Total Contribution Margin This “big picture” is gained by calculating total contribution margin—the total amount by which total sales exceed total variable costs. We calculate total contribution margin by multiplying per unit contribution margin by sales volume or number of units sold. This approach allows managers to determine how much profit a company is making before paying its fixed expenses. For Hicks Manufacturing, if the managers want to determine how much their Blue Jay Model contributes to the overall profitability of the company, they can calculate total contribution margin as follows: For the month of April, sales from the Blue Jay Model contributed$36,000 toward fixed costs. Looking at contribution margin in total allows managers to evaluate whether a particular product is profitable and how the sales revenue from that product contributes to the overall profitability of the company. In fact, we can create a specialized income statement called a contribution margin income statement to determine how changes in sales volume impact the bottom line.

To illustrate how this form of income statement can be used, contribution margin income statements for Hicks Manufacturing are shown for the months of April and May.