2020 sales of one-gram cannabis flower dropped amid COVID-19

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

New data released by Headset a Seattle-based cannabis data-analytics firm shows that sales of one-gram cannabis flower packages slumped in numerous North American markets last year. 

The trend indicates that consumers are changing their buying behaviors amid the COVID-19 pandemic something that is likely to have an effect on both producers and retailers.

“I think that one of the big reasons that we see grams trending down is as a result of COVID,” said Headset’s director of analytics, Liz Connors, who noted that the change in buying behavior is also reflective of trends in the consumer packaged goods market as a whole.

While the recently published point-of-sale data may suggest that one-gram cannabis flower packages are becoming less desirable choices for consumers, these small bundles of weed which are the cheapest on the market are still fairly popular in terms of unit sales. 

Shoppers are buying more cannabis per trip amid COVID-19

Headset data indicates that one-gram cannabis package sales based on unit volume sunk drastically last year in California, Nevada and Washington state. For example, in Washington state, sales plummeted 29 percent in 2020, dropping to 471,000 in December from the 661,000 units that were recorded in January.

Between January and December of last year in California, analysts noticed an even greater slump in units of one-gram cannabis packages a 44 percent drop. In Nevada, sales of one-gram cannabis packages slipped by 40 percent during the same time period. However, it should be noted that Nevada saw an uptick in one-gram cannabis sales in November.

Canadian cannabis markets didn’t manage to sidestep the reduction in one-gram cannabis sales either. Combined unit sales of one-gram packages in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario reduced by almost 58 percent from  January to November.

Fortunately, Connors sees a silver lining in one-gram sales dips customers are adding more to their baskets amid the coronavirus pandemic. Her theory that buyers are purchasing larger amounts of cannabis amid coronavirus is “supported by the fact that we see average (basket sizes) having increased throughout COVID.”

“Shoppers go in less often. We buy more and if we’re already buying more, it’s more economical, obviously, to buy an eighth (3.5 grams) than it is to buy a gram, because the price per gram for an eighth is a lot less,” she explained.

Data difficult to interpret due to varying packaging requirements 

Notwithstanding the information contained in this post, analysts noted that their data was tricky to interpret. Why? Because packaging requirements vary across certain legal locations. 

California, Washington, Nevada three of the largest legal cannabis markets in the United States require retail cannabis to be prepackaged before it is sold. Because of this, data can be compared for commonly-purchased package sizes, including packages ranging in size from 1-3.5 grams. A similar rule applies in Canada’s federally-regulated production industry. 

However, two other big U.S. markets, Colorado and Oregon, allow for “deli-style” product sales, which are sold in varying amounts. Since Colorado and Oregon sell such large quantities of deli-style cannabis products, the task of interpreting data proved more difficult for Headset’s team of analysts.

On the other hand, what we can glean from their findings is that one-gram cannabis flower products continue to harbor sales potential. Despite dips in unit sales volume of one-gram packages, this segment of the market still ranks number two on the list of the highest-selling flower size category. Taking the top spot are 3.5-gram packages, which continue to attract interest among buyers who are on a tight budget, as well as those who are intent on trying new products without spending too much. 

As the pandemic eases, Headset analysts predict that buying habits will return to normal.