Operating Budget – Merchandising

Learning Outcomes

  • Prepare an operating budget for a merchandising company

Merchandising Company Budgets flowchart. At the top is the sales budget, which has two arrows pointing to the purchasing budget and the SG&A budget. The sales, purchasing, and SG&A budget boxes are all blue and there is a bracket labeling those as the operating budget. Below the operating budget is a horizontal line showing the capital expenditures budget in red on the left, and going to the right from there, an arrow pointing to the cash budget, with another arrow pointing to the budgeted income statement, and a final arrow pointing to the budgeted balance sheet. The cash budget, budgeted income statement, and budgeted balance sheet are all green and there is a bracket labeling those as the financial budget. There are also arrows pointing from the purchasing budget and the SG&A budget to the cash budget.
Budget preparation for merchandising companies and service companies is similar to budgeting for manufacturing companies.  A service or merchandising company will not have a production budget or direct material budget and may not have a direct labor or overhead budget. The largest difference is that since we do not have a production or materials purchase budget, we still need to know how much inventory we need to buy for a merchandiser. The merchandise purchases budget is similar to the production budget. The purchases budget can be done in units or in total dollars. Typically, the purchases budget is done in dollars and will use a cost of goods sold percentage to determine the cost of inventory sales. Remember, cost of goods sold is literally the cost of the inventory we are now selling and should be less than what we can sell it. This section discusses budgeting in merchandising companies.

Throughout this chapter, we have focused on budgeting in a manufacturing company. Suppose managers in a retail merchandising business— such as a dress shop or a furniture store—prepare a budget. In this case, the company prepares a purchases budget instead of a production budget. To compute the purchases for each quarter, management must estimate the cost of the goods to be sold during the quarter and the inventory required at the end of the quarter.

Suppose Strobel Furniture Company prepared a sales budget showing sales of $30,000 in the first quarter, $80,000 in the second quarter, $50,000 in the third quarter, and $90,000 in the fourth quarter. Assume the company maintains sufficient inventory to cover one-half of the next quarter’s sales. Cost of goods sold is 55% of sales. The ending merchandise inventory this year is expected to be $11,000. The purchases budget can now be prepared. We need the following information:

  • Sales, from the sales budget
  • Cost of goods sold percentage (can also be shown as gross margin or gross profit percent which would be subtracted from 100 to get the cost of goods sold percent)
  • Desired ending inventory policy
  • Beginning inventory balance (if not provided, you can follow the same ending inventory policy and apply it to first-quarter sales.)  Remember, the beginning inventory of one quarter is the ending inventory of the previous quarter.

Strobel’s merchandise inventory budget would look like this:

Strobel Furniture Company
Description Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Subcategory, Merchandise Purchases Budget
Qtr 1 Qtr 2 Qtr 3 Qtr 4
SALES (in dollars) $30,000 $80,000 $50,000 $90,000
Cost of goods sold (Sales x 55%) $16,500 $44,000 $27,500 $49,500
Add: Desired ending inventory (1/2 of next quarter’s cost of goods sold) $22,000 $13,750 $24,750 $11,000
Total inventory needs $38,500 $57,750 $52,250 $60,500
Less: Beginning merchandise inventory ($8,250) ($22,000) ($13,750) ($24,750)
Budgeted Purchases (in dollars) $30,250 $35,750 $38,500 $35,750


Important items to know:

  • Cost of goods sold = sales x 55% cost of goods sold percentage (45% gross profit).
  • Desired ending inventory is next quarter’s cost of goods sold x 50% or divided by 2. For the fourth quarter, the information is given in the example problem.
  • Beginning inventory equals the ending inventory of the previous quarter for all except for the first quarter. For Q1, we assume the same rules were followed for ending inventory in the previous year, so we can calculate Q1 cost of goods sold as $16,500 / 2.

Strobel can now use the information in its purchases budget to prepare the cost of goods sold section of the budgeted income statement, to prepare cash disbursements schedules, and to prepare the inventory and accounts payable amounts in the financial budget.

Here is another look at how to create a purchasing schedule for a merchandising company:

You can view the transcript for “Purchases Budget with Example Calculations – Accounting video” here (opens in new window).

Now, check your understanding of the purchases budget for a merchandising company.

Practice Question