Statistics Canada: Canadian cannabis sales surge 19 percent amid COVID-19

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

As the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) figures started stacking up across the globe, Canadian cannabis sales took a hike up north. Based on revenue results published by Statistics Canada for the month of March, sales increased 19.2 percent since February; suggesting that consumers could have been propelled into panic-buying mode.

Fears of supply restraints suffused North America’s cannabis industry when the virus outbreak hit at the beginning of this year. Fortunately for Canada’s cannabis market, residents splashed out $181 million on dispensary products during March.

Aside from the fact that this is the largest monthly cannabis revenue increase since the nation legalized in October 2018, the recent surge in sales also occurred amid a global health pandemic — a monumental achievement for Canada’s legal cannabis industry.

Canadian cannabis sales grew noticeably across every province and territory

Despite social distancing measures, the vast majority of cannabis retail stores in Canada stayed open during the crisis. However, licensed dispensary owners have had to adjust the way they conduct business. For example, shops in provinces like Ontario have been serving consumers with home delivery and curbside pickup services.

According to analysts from Statistics Canada, every Canadian province and territory with an active retail market –not including Prince Edward Island – saw a jump in sales for the month of March. When the $181 million earned in March 2020 is put side-by-side with the $60.9 million worth of cannabis sold in March 2019, revenue growth for Canada’s legal cannabis industry is noteworthy.

Canada’s cannabis sales in March 2020 highlighted double-figure percentage growth for regulated markets in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. However, Quebec claimed the top spot in regards to monthly revenue gains — legal cannabis sales grew 29 percent between March and February.

The surge in Canada’s cannabis sales could be attributed to the fact that the country’s legal industry is more mature than it was one year ago; hundreds of new stores have bagged licenses and kick-started operations since March 2019. On the other hand – mirrored with the spike in cannabis sales across various cannabis-friendly U.S. states like Arizona, Illinois and Michigan amid COVID-19 – stay-at-home orders may have also influenced Canadian cannabis sales by encouraging consumers to stock-up.

Canadian cannabis consumption also increased during COVID-19

Something else that analysts managed to extract from the StatsCan report was that more people are consuming weed amid the coronavirus. To be specific, StatsCan claims that 6.5 per cent of Canadians consumed more of the plant– in whatever form – on a weekly basis during the middle of March.

Albeit minor, reduced weekly consumption was also noticeable among the Canadian cannabis consumer demographic in mid-March, with the company reporting that 1.6 percent weren’t de-stressing with the green stuff.

Since the report was carried out, sales appear to have stabilized. This is according to the CEO of publicly-traded Canadian cannabis company Aphria Inc., Irwin Simon, during a quarterly analyst call in April.

“More recently, consumption has returned to more normalized pre-COVID-19 levels for all regions except Quebec where cannabis sales remain at even a higher level,” said, Simon, concluding that, “Canadian medical cannabis has experienced an increase in demand since the outbreak of the virus.”