As Canada passed the 2 year milestone of legalized cannabis this past October, the industry has become an unlikely benefactor from the Covid-19 pandemic. Due to the severity and uncertainty of early lockdowns in Canada, retail sales have jumped as much as 15% from June to July of 2020. David Soberman, a professor of marketing at the University of Toronto, believes that this is partly due to people becoming unwilling to meet their “regular cannabis dealers during the pandemic, ultimately forcing them to change their habits.”
Another likely culprit may be that casual users of cannabis products were more likely to test the waters while spending more time at home, and were searching for a reliable and safe way to purchase cannabis products. Recently released Statistics Canada data compared April-June 2019 to this past spring, and found that people spent 74 per cent more on licensed cannabis products this year, coinciding with the World Health Organization’s declaration of the coronavirus pandemic.
All of this has pushed increased spending in the legal cannabis industry. According to Marijuana Business Daily, there have been increased sales across all Canadian provinces, and Alberta saw July sales of $51.8M, and Ontario at $61.3M, with more than 100 licensed stores. Alberta in particular is interesting, as it leads the country in stores per capita, surpassing even more heavily populated provinces like British Columbia and Quebec. Combined, all provinces contribute to a Canadian industry worth about 2.8 billion dollars annually, which certainly makes this a milestone worth celebrating.
While there is no doubt that Covid-19 continues to drive uncertainty in the near term, the robust increase in retail sales and activity across Canada this past spring and summer is welcome news to the industry and economy, reaffirming a bright future for the Canadian cannabis industry. And whenever the pandemic does come to an end, Soberman asserts that people’s current buying habits might be here to stay, leaving suppliers, growers and industry experts optimisitc about continued growth in 2021.