In March, when everyone was shutting down and cannabis was proving itself to be an essential business across the U.S., Canada was also experiencing a surge in cannabis sales.
According to Statistics Canada, cannabis sales shot up 19 percent in March, one of the biggest spikes since 2018 legalization. Canadians purchased $181 million in legal cannabis in March alone, even as retail sales dipped by 10 percent in other industries.
“Based on respondent feedback, about 40 percent of retailers closed their doors during March, Statistics Canada explained. “The average length of shutdowns was five business days. In the clothing and clothing accessories stores subsector, 91 percent of retailers were closed in March for an average of 13 days. Despite these challenging times, many retailers reported their sales figures and Statistics Canada thanks them for their continued collaboration.”
The Numbers, Province By Province
Ontario spent the most on cannabis, selling $47 million in legal product even though they have fewer than 100 stores. Alberta sold $40 million, and Quebec experienced the biggest increase, a 27 percent jump from $29 million to $37 million. Only Prince Edward Island didn’t see a boost in sales, as they are one of the only places to have shut down, closing retail sales in March and reopening May 22.
Sill, despite this spike, some retailers feel like they still aren’t making what they should be, or what they need to get by. In British Columbia, private dispensaries are upset because provincial retailers took over online sales and are pushing out independent competition.
“Government is continually reviewing cannabis-related policies to ensure we are supporting the continued growth of the industry while also keeping public safety top of mind,” the Attorney General’s office of the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch told Kamloops This Week.
Some are also wondering whether the increase was caused in part by the fact that 4/20 was approaching. Still, it’s hard to ignore the fact that while folks are stuck at home, they are turning to cannabis, making it stand out as an essential business in the Great White North.