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Industry Reports

The Revolving Door Factor: Budtender Turnover in the Cannabis Industry

May 31, 2018

Executive Summary

This report uses Headset sales data for individual employees to look at the state of turnover in the cannabis industry. It examines everything from turnover rates at the typical store to seasonal employment trends. This report will be useful for any retailer looking to gain a better understanding of what’s going on with arguably their most important employees, the budtenders.


Budtenders are the core of any retail business, being the most customer-focused employees. Though they might technically be the lowest people on the totem pole, smart cannabis business owners know that they’re really the foundation. Thus, keeping them around is key.

For this report, we’ve looked at our data to see when employees started showing sales (got hired) or stopped showing sales (left the company). This allows us to see turnover from all sides—when it’s happening, who’s turning over, and perhaps even why! 

For example, turnover spikes after summer, traditionally the busiest season. It’s also not surprising to learn that budtenders who sell more stay longer. Success is invigorating, right? That said, turnover is still very common. The vast majority of stores see a high rate of turnover, with much of that happening before their new hires even have time to settle in.

Clearly, there are some takeaways to be had. This report is for anyone out there who’s charged with the tough, tough task of hiring. We hope these insights will help you attract and retain the very best!


Data for this report comes from real-time sales reporting by participating Washington State and Colorado cannabis retailers via their point-of-sale systems, which are linked up with Headset’s business analytics software. This report is based on data collected in the states of Washington and Colorado over the past year, over a 12-month period. That data is cross-referenced with our catalog of over 275,000 products to provide detailed information on market trends. 

Headset’s data is very reliable, as it comes digitally direct from our partner retailers. However, the potential does exist for misreporting in the instance of duplicates, incorrectly classified products, inaccurate entry of products into point-of-sale systems, or even simple human error at the point of purchase. Thus, there is a slight margin of error to consider.

State by State

Washington State and Colorado have very different turnover profiles. Among employees reporting sales in the past year, Colorado has a much higher rate of turnover. In Washington, 47% of  employees stayed, while only 38% did in Colorado. In Colorado, 44% of all employees were new and left in the same year. Colorado also shows a greater turnover among longer term   employees. The number of employees with sales in the year prior   in Colorado was 33%, but only 15% of those employees were still around in the current year. Compare that to Washington, with 44% and 24%, respectively. 

We should note that, while burnout will definitely increase turnover, this doesn’t mean that Colorado employees are unhappier on average. Colorado has a much larger retail sector than Washington, where the number of stores is restricted, so it’s also possible that budtenders are moving around because they’ve got more opportunities.

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  • Retailer Specifics
  • Brand Specifics
  • Category Data
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  • Top Selling Products
  • Purchasing Patterns
  • Buying Cycles
  • Demographic Trends
  • Segment Analysis
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  • Sales Analysis
  • Sales by Weight
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Team Headset

With extensive experience within the cannabis industry, Headset is comprised of a team of industry experts, data scientists and market analysts combining our abilities in technology, design and data to help push the cannabis industry forward.