Normalization of Cannabis Shows Shift in Holiday Sales Patterns

A recent New Frontier Data report shows that cannabis normalization is on the rise, and high sales days aren’t limited to holidays like Green Wednesday or Black Friday.

New Frontier Data compared cannabis sales data for the month of November in 2021 and 2022, which shows a shift in sales patterns. While Green Wednesday was the third-highest grossing sales in 2021, sales collected in 2022 on Friday, Nov. 4; Friday, Nov. 11; and Sunday, Nov. 18 were nearly equivalent as Nov. 23 (this year’s Green Wednesday) and Nov. 25 (Black Friday). New Frontier Data consulted many of its leading experts to analyze the reasoning behind this change.

According to New Frontier Data Senior Research Analyst Noah Tomares, the Michigan cannabis industry is evolving rapidly compared to mature markets such as California. “Perhaps the most notable difference in November was how Michigan’s product breakdown stayed similar throughout the month, where in 2021 they favored more edibles and cartridges right before the holiday,” said Tomares. “It’s striking how much more stable Michigan is in 2022 versus what it was ’21, and how much more it looks like California.”

Tomares also added that we’re beginning to see a shift in purchasing behavior as well. “In California, a relatively mature market, purchases remained largely consistent in terms of product breakdowns year-over-year. Michigan consumers last year gravitated towards more subtle or ‘family-friendly’ products such as cartridges and edibles: In 2021, those products spiked from 37% of transactions during the first week of November to 43% for the week of Thanksgiving. This year, the month looked much more normalized, with cartridges and edibles accounting for approximately 40%+ of sales during each week in November.”

New Frontier Data’s Chief Knowledge Officer, Dr. Amanda Reiman, suggests that cannabis normalization is likely the reason that sales aren’t highest on previously predictable days. “I think it’s normalization and increased access nationwide that is driving the change in holiday purchasing,” said Reiman. “Not only are people just more comfortable using their regular products in more places and with more people, but cannabis is available in more states, so there is not as much need to stock up before you go if you can get it wherever you’re headed. Many folks would likely rather wait and buy cannabis at their destination than to take it on a plane.”

Consumers spending time with family and friends on or around the Thanksgiving holiday is also a point to consider. New Frontier Data shared that 44% of consumers source their cannabis from friends or family, and 29% say that it’s their primary source of access. In some medical-only states, as well as those that still don’t have any cannabis legislation, family is the primary source of cannabis.

Previous data has shown that 68% of people consume with others, 21% consume with siblings, 19% with extended family members, 11% with parents, and 6% with their children. Additionally, 85% of consumers say that their family knows about their cannabis use, and 59% say that their family is supportive of consumption.

Thanksgiving-related consumption is also a common practice, where 40% spend time with family or spouses while consuming, 38% report pairing cannabis and eating, and 33% cook with cannabis.

Overall, Tomares believes that these activities will continue to become more normalized over the next few years. “We expect that as markets continue to mature and new markets come online, consumer preferences will become increasingly normalized, and acquisition of cannabis will become increasingly integrated into consumers’ daily routines,” Tomares said. “Already, 48% of consumers report just visiting a dispensary after they run out, as opposed to planning a dedicated trip. With new markets opening with lower barriers to acquisition, consumers may feel less pressure to purchase cannabis before travel or social events. As this plays out, we may see some unofficial holidays playing a less significant role in consumers’ purchase decisions.”

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