Industry sector: Retail and wholesale

Garden centre: Cash sales

'Cash sales' means all income from your main business activity which is received at the time of sale. While some customers will pay you in cash, remember that Cash sales can also include:

  • debit and credit card payments
  • gift tokens (if you accept these)
  • cheques

To prepare your cash flow, you will need to estimate how much income you'll receive over the next 12 months (including VAT if appropriate). To do this you will need to estimate how many plants and other items you are likely to sell and at what price.

There are a number of things to consider when you make your estimates:

Type of business

  • who will your customers be? Will you target members of the public exclusively or will you also aim to supply other businesses such as landscape gardeners or forecourt retailers
  • will you sell by mail order and online? You might think about selling some product lines on eBay or Amazon
  • where will your premises be? You may need to have a main road frontage to attract large volumes of customers
  • how large will your premises be? This will affect the range of plants and other goods you will be able to stock
  • what security measures will you put in place to protect your stock
  • how many outlets will you have
  • what will your opening hours be

Your product ranges

  • will you grow any plants yourself
  • will you target a particular type of customer - for example, young families
  • will you aim to stock a wide range of plants or will you specialise - for example in herbs
  • what other non-plant ranges will you stock
  • will you offer services such as garden design or maintenance
  • will you allow other businesses such as swimming pool installation, conservatory or shed erection to operate from your site on a concession basis
  • will you offer any catering to customers
  • how will you make sure your plants are healthy and disease-free
  • what will you do with 'leggy' unsold plants past their peak
  • how will you minimise wastage
  • are you prepared for seasonal variations - most of your sales are likely to take place between March and June or July
  • will you offer sales of Christmas trees, holly, decorations and other seasonal items


  • what will your pricing policy be (don't forget, you must be able to cover your costs, overheads and drawings)
  • how often will you review your prices
  • will you offer special prices if customers buy more than one of a particular item - for example five alpines for £10 instead of £2.50 each
  • will you try to offer plants in all price ranges
  • how much discount will you offer your trade customers (if you have any)


  • will you be able to find experienced and knowledgeable staff locally
  • what will be your policy on staff discounts


Independent garden centres face strong competition from supermarkets and from the national garden centre and DIY chains, which operate from very big sites, stock vast ranges of plants and non-plant products and offer customers an enjoyable day out with plenty to see and do. Many of these aim to 'weather proof' their sites as far as possible by offering a wide range of gift items, food and drink products and homewares as well as extensive catering facilities. Competition from online garden products suppliers has grown very strongly too.

This can make it hard for the independent to compete. It's very important to make sure that your garden centre will offer something special that will attract customers to you rather than to your competitors.

To help with your decisions, click on the checkpoints for guidance. Once you have worked out a Cash sales figure add it to the relevant field in your cash flow forecast.