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Selling, General, & Administrative Expense (SG&A)


Selling, General, & Administrative Expense (SG&A) is a financial term referring to the total expenses a company incurs while conducting its day-to-day operations. These include expenses related to sales, marketing, and administration, but exclude cost of goods sold and direct production costs. SG&A serves as a key indicator of a company’s operational efficiency and overall profitability.


Selling, General, & Administrative Expense (SG&A) in phonetics can be transcribed as:/ˈsɛlɪŋ, ˈʤɛn(ə)rəl, ənd ədˈmɪnɪˌstreɪtɪv ɪkˈspens (ɛs ʤi ənd eɪ)/

Key Takeaways

  1. Selling, General, & Administrative Expense (SG&A) encompasses all of the costs associated with running a business that are not directly tied to production. This includes costs such as salaries and wages, marketing expenses, rent, utilities, and office supplies.
  2. SG&A is a critical financial metric for businesses, as it provides insight into how efficiently they manage their resources and operations. Companies strive to lower their SG&A expenses to increase their profitability and competitiveness in the market.
  3. Monitoring SG&A expenses is essential for investors and analysts when evaluating a company’s financial health. High SG&A compared to revenue may indicate an inefficient business model, whereas lower SG&A signifies the company is operating efficiently and may have a higher profit margin.


The Selling, General, & Administrative Expense (SG&A) is an important business/finance term as it provides critical insight into a company’s operational efficiency and profitability. Encompassing all non-production expenses, such as sales and marketing costs, salaries, office rentals, and overheads, a comprehensive understanding of SG&A enables businesses to identify cost-saving opportunities and allocate resources more effectively. By closely monitoring and managing SG&A expenses, companies can maintain financial stability, improve profitability, and remain competitive within their respective industries. Hence, assessing and analyzing SG&A expenses is vital to making informed strategic decisions and ensuring long-term success.


Selling, General, and Administrative Expense (SG&A) serves a vital purpose in the realm of finance and business. The comprehensive measure not only captures a company’s expenses associated with the selling of its products and services but also covers the broader general and administrative expenses necessary for operating a business. By tracking and analyzing its SG&A expenses, a company can thoroughly evaluate its overall efficiency, identify areas for potential cost savings, and make strategic decisions to optimize resource allocation. Consequently, this critical financial metric enables firms to remain competitive in the marketplace and achieve long-term sustainable growth.SG&A primarily consists of fixed and variable costs that are essential for running a business. These include marketing and advertising expenses, salesforce salaries and commissions, office rent, utilities, and corporate salaries – among others. Since SG&A represents a considerable portion of a company’s operating expenses, astute financial managers often scrutinize this metric to manage costs more effectively and improve bottom-line profitability. Moreover, by comparing SG&A expenses in relation to its competitors, a company can benchmark its operational efficiency and assess its cost structure, guiding its strategic objectives and operational underpinnings toward improved financial performance and value creation for its shareholders.


Selling, General, & Administrative Expense (SG&A) refers to the expenses incurred by a company in its daily operations that are not directly linked to the production of goods or services. These expenses include salaries, advertising costs, rent, utility costs, and other administrative expenses. Here are three real-world examples of SG&A:1. Retail Store:In a retail store, the SG&A expense would comprise of salaries paid to the store employees, rent for the store location, utilities such as electricity, water, and internet, as well as advertising costs for promotions and sales events. Additionally, expenses for maintenance, repair of equipment, and administration costs like office supplies or accounting services are also included in SG&A.2. Software Company:For a software company, the SG&A expense would involve salaries for the sales and marketing team, expenses for traveling to client meetings or industry conferences, costs for online marketing and promotional campaigns, and office administration expenses like rent, utilities, and office supplies. Additionally, professional fees for legal or accounting services, and product training costs for the customer support team can be considered as SG&A expenses.3. Manufacturing Company:A manufacturing company’s SG&A expense would include the costs of maintaining a sales team, marketing expenditures for promoting the products, administrative expenses like rent and utilities for the office, as well as salaries for non-production staff such as managerial and administrative employees. Other SG&A expenses may include insurance for company vehicles or property, costs of maintaining warehouses, expenditures for research & development, as well as professional fees related to legal or accounting services.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Selling, General, & Administrative Expense (SG&A)?

Selling, General, & Administrative Expense (SG&A) refers to the operating expenses that a company incurs as part of its regular business operations, excluding cost of goods sold (COGS). Common examples of SG&A expenses include sales commissions, salaries, advertising, rent, utilities, office supplies, and legal fees.

How is SG&A calculated?

SG&A is calculated by adding all the relevant sales, general and administrative expenses incurred during a specific time frame. These expenses can be found on a company’s income statement. The formula to calculate SG&A is:SG&A = Total Sales Expenses + Total General Expenses + Total Administrative Expenses

Why is SG&A an important metric for businesses?

SG&A is an important metric because it helps companies understand how efficiently they are managing their resources and operations. A lower percentage of SG&A in relation to net sales indicates a more efficient operation, whereas a higher percentage of SG&A could suggest potential areas for cost reductions and efficiency improvements. Investors and analysts also use SG&A to assess a company’s overall financial health.

How does SG&A impact profit margins?

SG&A has a direct impact on a company’s profit margins. The lower the SG&A expenses, the higher the profit margin will be, and vice versa. Therefore, efficiently managing a company’s selling, general, and administrative expenses can help improve profitability.

How do I compare SG&A across different companies?

To compare SG&A across different companies, it’s best to calculate the SG&A as a percentage of net sales. By doing this, you can compare how efficiently each company manages its expenses relative to its revenue. Keep in mind that it is important to compare companies within the same industry, as SG&A expenses can differ significantly between industries.

Can SG&A be considered a fixed or variable cost?

SG&A expenses can be a combination of both fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs, such as rent and salaries, typically remain consistent regardless of sales volume. Variable costs, like sales commissions and advertising, can fluctuate based on the level of business activity. Understanding the proportion of fixed and variable costs within SG&A can help businesses better predict their expenses and manage their financials during periods of growth or decline.

Related Finance Terms

  • Operating Expenses
  • Overhead Costs
  • Indirect Expenses
  • Marketing and Distribution Expenses
  • Financial Reporting and Compliance Costs

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