Industry Reports

Understanding seasonality in cannabis sales

November 8, 2019

Executive Summary

Now that the cannabis industry in some states has settled, we’re beginning to see consistent seasonal trends. This report examines trends that are based on time, looking at sales by month, growth by month, sales by day, and even preferred purchasing hours by generation. It will provide insight into the times that various customer groups come in, organized in terms of categories and demographics. It will be especially useful for retailers and producers, as well as anyone who is interested in not only who is buying cannabis or what they’re buying, but also when they’re buying it.

Introduction

Since cannabis was first legalized, markets in longstanding legal states have stabilized and matured in many ways, exhibiting consistent, recurring sales trends. This includes the times that people purchase cannabis, which we’ve seen exhibiting more and more clear patterns as markets settle. This report examines not only the month-to-month trends in cannabis sales, but sales by day of the week and even hour of the day. It also examines these data from the standpoint of consumer demographics and category sales, allowing us to look deeper into not just when people are buying cannabis, but who is buying it and what they’re buying.

Obviously, weekends are huge sales days. Friday and Saturday remain the most popular days for cannabis sales overall. However, as we demonstrated in our recent report on demographics, younger generations exhibit a stronger preference for products traditionally associated with partying — Gen Z and Millenials love Concentrates, for example — while older generations gravitate towards wellness-adjacent products. This theory is given further support by seasonality data, which show products more specific to regulation enjoying more sales on weekend nights, while wellness-adjacent products sell better during the week. We’re sure you can guess which generations are shopping on which days!

While we see consistency across states in some of the overarching narratives, like the generational divide in product preference, some trends vary geographically. Likely, this has to do with the age of a given market, as older markets have more measurable trends, having seen their way through more regulatory chaos, but can also be chalked up to differences in local culture. Which are, of course, harder to quantify. 

Overall, we see that the things that make cannabis a unique industry, like its ability to be used both medically and recreationally, drive sales trends in several ways. So too do simpler facts of the consumer packaged goods business, like holiday sales boosts and summer sales boosts. Our data show a number of trends related to time, and we examine them all. While our other reports have examined what products are sold, who they’re sold to, or where they’re sold, this one is all about when.

Methodology

Data for this report comes from real-time sales reporting by participating cannabis retailers via their point-of-sale systems, which are linked up with Headset’s data analytics platform. The data included are from as far back as January 2017, and as recently as the previous month. Some slides include data for more specific date ranges, or certain legal states, which is noted therein. Sales data are cross-referenced with our catalog of over 400,000 cannabis 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. For this report, the data are also self-reported by loyalty program participants. Thus, there is a slight margin of error to consider. 

The Big Picture

The broadest way to understand seasonality in cannabis is, of course, to look at month over month sales figures. In terms of total sales, the trend is slow but steady growth, as would be expected for a new market. There are some spikes, like in June 2018 in California, when a regulatory change caused a mass sell-off of product, but otherwise it’s pretty smooth. California has begun to grow more rapidly lately, which could have to do with the fact that it has a huge potential market, and also is coming out of its initial period of regulatory chaos. Across the board, however, sales are growing.


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  • Retailer Specifics
  • Brand Specifics
  • Category Data
  • Basket Trends and Analysis
  • Top Selling Products
  • Purchasing Patterns
  • Buying Cycles
  • Demographic Trends
  • Segment Analysis
  • Fastest Growing Segments
  • New Brands and Products
  • Sales Analysis
  • Sales by Weight
  • Product Profitability
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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.