Differences between Sales and Trends and Monthly Financial Reports Explained

We’ve seen some discussions on Twitter around differences between financial and sales and trend reports today. You can follow the discussion at https://twitter.com/drbarnard/status/441261509520269312 if you’re interested. Over the years this has come up a lot, so we thought it might be helpful to weigh in.

There can be significant differences between sales and trends (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly) reports and monthly financial reports from iTunes Connect. Here’s what’s happening, as far as we understand it:

When a user clicks the buy button there are two stages. They enter their account information, download the app, and it shows up as a sale on the sales and trend reports. Sales then have to be confirmed and processed by the payment processor, money changes hands, etc. There’s a chance for a refund and fraud processing, among other things, so a few of those sales might be reversed. That causes a delay between when the sale occurs and when it is recorded in the official accounting ledger. The delay is generally 2 days, give or take. If the delay causes the sales to be pushed past the end of the current monthly financial report date, as determined by Apple’s fiscal calendar, the sales will show up on the next monthly financial report.

Most of the time this difference is small. It is only really obvious when your app goes live toward the end of a financial period or there’s a major traffic spike for one reason or another.

Over time these sales get accounted for, so when you expand the time range you’re looking at, or get a total, the two kinds of sales approach a common truth. Again, for most people this will come under the amount of variance introduced by things like currency translation.

In AppViz 3 the estimated revenue in the upper right comes from the monthly financials first, and weeklies and dailies after the end of the last financial period. Sales can bounce a bit when new financials come in, but this method increases the accuracy of the total figure and reflects real guaranteed sales as much as possible.

The financial section shows direct payments from Apple, rather than estimates, so that’s what we recommend for paying partners and taxes.

Hopefully this explanation helps. You can always contact support@appviz.com or @AppViz if you want to discuss something odd you’re seeing, even if you’re not a customer. We live and breathe these numbers, and are happy to talk about it, and as discussed on our new security page, we NEVER disclose customer data.