The question of petty cash should be addressed during the business planning stage, while establishing store procedures. The amount of money a retailer should keep on hand will vary by the volume of sales, the ability to safely store the money and the type of payments the retailer receives from customers. It may take a few weeks actually dealing with the public before you can determine exactly how much money to have on hand and in the cash drawer.
Retailers who take more credit and debit card payments or checks, than cash, will not usually need much change on hand. It's wise to have a little more than you think you will need, but try not to have too much cash in the store. Invest in a fire-proof safe or create a secure location to store the money at night.
Besides the beginning amount of cash in the register, determine a maximum amount. Pulling excess money from the cash drawer during a shift, sometimes called a 'cash drop', is good cash management that will reduce the amount of money on the sales floor. This process is especially useful during heavy sales times like Christmas shopping season.
Examine the amount of bills and rolled change on hand each day to make sure your store never runs short. If you find that you are constantly running out of quarters or other coins, considering increasing the amount of petty cash. Not all of the cash must be kept the register. Retailers may want to keep an additional amount of rolled coins and other cash in the safe as an in-store bank.
If you decide your retail store should have $250 in change in the cash register at all times, here is a good distribution of that money:
$50 in Ones
$20 in Fives
$50 in Tens
$100 in Twenties
$20 in Quarters
$5 in Dimes
$4 in Nickels
$1 in Pennies
Each night at closing, balance the cash drawer back to the starting amount and prepare the daily deposit according to your operating procedures. Many retailers take deposits at night, but I suggest securing the money overnight and then make a trip to the bank during daytime hours. Your safety is more important than money.