April U.S. pot sales show resilience amid shutdown

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U.S. cannabis sales stayed strong in April even as broader retail sales fell by double digits, indicating that the March increase in demand was more than just pantry loading.

Total U.S. retail sales fell 21.6 per cent in April from the year prior, yet pot sales in several states posted significant year-over-year gains -- in some cases, even bigger than in March when demand spiked ahead of Covid-related shutdowns, according to data firm BDS Analytics. Many legal states declared cannabis an essential service during the pandemic, allowing for delivery and curbside pickup.

In states that have legalized recreational marijuana, Oregon stood out with 40 per cent sales growth in April versus 31 per cent in March and 19 per cent in January, according to BDS. Jurisdictions where medical use is legal but recreational isn’t showed even stronger gains, with Maryland sales doubling and Arizona jumping nearly 50 per cent.

Nevada, where the industry is more dependent on tourism than most other states, was an outlier with a 30 per cent drop in April sales.

Interestingly, the strength wasn’t reflected to the same extent on April 20, better known as 4/20 or the biggest pot celebration of the year. In Colorado and California, 4/20 sales were 62 per cent and 55 per cent above the year-to-date average, respectively, but that compared to increases of 148 per cent and 135 per cent in 2019.

Overall, 4/20 sales in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington fell 22 per cent from 2019, according to data from Headset Inc. That may be at least partly because the celebration fell on a Monday this year and a Saturday last year.

Father’s Day

In a sign that times have changed, there are growing indications that more and more dads are getting cannabis as a gift for Father’s Day.

LeafLink Inc., a wholesale pot marketplace, said the overall market share of concentrate products -- most commonly found in vapes -- jumped 30 per cent during the week after Father’s Day last year versus the week before. That compares to an average weekly increase of just 0.9 per cent, likely due to retailers restocking after a jump in demand.

The products that generate the most interest on Father’s Day include many that seem dad-friendly, such as cannabis cigars, mocktails and resins, according to Headset. However, there was also growth in some surprising products during last Father’s Day weekend, including a 79 per cent jump in lip balm purchases and a 55 per cent increase in breath strips and sublinguals.

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