Turnover is a broad measure of a company's sales. In consolidated accounts the turnover number in the P & L usually includes all sales made by a company and its subsidiaries — the sales of associates and joint ventures will be shown on a separate line.

For many companies the value of sales is perfectly straightforward and it does not matter whether the term used is turnover, revenue or sales. There are circumstances when they can be very different.

Examples include:

  • Advertising companies which often include money paid to then by customers for buying adspace and airtime in turnover (or total billings) but never in revenues.
  • Tobacco companies which often report a gross turnover number that includes excise duties (in effect a tax the company collects and passes on to governments), which are not part of the companies' own revenues.

For more on the definition of revenues, see revenue recognition.