There are a lot of things we don’t know about the COVID-19 crisis. When it will end, how it will change the way we interact with one another, and what it will to do the global economy, to name a few of the really big ones. But, as the cannabis industry’s only real-time data analytics firm, we do know that people are buying a lot more pot because of it. While pot shops were initially ordered to close in some instances, they have ultimately been deemed an essential business, in both the U.S. and Canada. Obviously, for any medical marijuana patient, their local dispensary is nothing if not essential, so it’s great that the government is restricting access amidst all of this.
Some states, provinces and local municipalities have gone back and forth with slapping restrictions on sales, but for the most part, the industry is fully operational. And customers are certainly grateful for it. As we’ve noted in our daily updates, sales are way up. But while it’s no surprise that people facing down a potentially very long quarantine would want to stock up on something that is both an essential medicine and a way to make watching 16 hours of Netflix a day bearable, we wanted to know what exactly they were buying.
Just to clarify, the data we’re looking at here are from California, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington, and we’ve defined pre-COVID as Jan 1, 2020 to March 6, 2020, with our COVID crisis data running up to March 31. The first thing that jumps out, looking at category sales, is that Edibles have been flying off the shelves. Sales are up 28% over their pre-COVID average. As our Director of Analytics, Liz Connors, recently told the New York Times, “It’s probably the easiest way to get high without touching your face very much.” Eat gummies, save lives, people!
But in all seriousness, some of the category changes we’re seeing are definitely associated with the public health practices we’ve all adopted to fight the virus. Pre-Roll sales, for example, are down significantly, we suspect because passing a joint around with friends is pretty much off the table right now. There are definitely folks out there who want a whole one for themselves, but Pre-Rolls are most commonly shared. There's also the fact that using Pre-Rolls, at least for regular consumers, often requires lots of little trips to the store, which is what everyone is trying to avoid right now.
As for the other winners, it should be pretty obvious that people are buying more flower. We’ll get into this more later, but people are buying Flower like toilet paper or vodka, which is to say, in bulk. More surprising is the fact that Beverages are way up, as they are usually a very niche category. Again, being a relatively sanitary way to ingest cannabis probably has a lot to do with it.
If we look at some of the top brands state-by-state, we see the same story from that aggregated categories graph. Edibles are killing it across the board. In California, Kiva is on top, as they were before the crisis. That said, 35% average growth during the crisis is certainly an eye-catching number. One of their previous top sellers, Camino -Wild Cherry Gummies 20-Pack (100mg), is driving a lot of that, with a 115% increase in average daily sales over the pre-COVID period. Honorable mention goes to the #3 Edibles brand in California, Kahna by Sunderstorm, which hit a 59% increase in average daily sales.
Elsewhere, Washington’s Craft Elixirs came up on a 67% COVID-19 boost, driven by their preexisting top seller, Pioneer Squares - Black & Blueberry 10-Pack (100mg), with a 77% increase in average daily sales. Nevada was hampered a bit by the delivery-only order, with the most growth going to Cannabella at 32%. Their CBD/THC 1:1 Watermelon Gummies helped, posting a 62% increase in average daily sales. Lastly, the second biggest name in Colorado Edibles, DixieElixirs, did quite well, with a 71% increase. That was far beyond what any other Edibles company in the state achieved. Tropic Twist Gummies (100mg) were their big performer, with a 123% average daily sales increase.
While Flower wasn’t quite as popular as Edibles overall, there has definitely been increased interest. Specifically in large amounts of it, which makes sense. People are trying to avoid taking frequent trips to the store, and are also probably anxious about ongoing access to their favorite strains. Average daily sales of 28g (1oz) packages of Flower were up 41% across all U.S. markets, while sales of 1g packages actually decreased by 13%. As for consumer favorites, Washington cannabis buyers went for ounces of Northwest Cannabis Solutions’ Hash Plant strain, giving it a 233% boost in average daily sales. In California, ounces of NUG - Bubba Diagonal led the charge with a 78% increase in average daily sales. It’s seems safe to say that, while people are doing their part and staying home, a good number of them are going to stay high while they’re at it.
It’s great news that sales are up, of course, as so many livelihoods and so many patients depend on the cannabis industry, but we want to wrap this up by remembering that the most important thing is stopping the spread of the virus. Thus, we’d like to give a huge shout out to the cannabis retail employees out there controlling store traffic, sanitizing display cases, and keeping everything running smoothly. Stay safe and stay healthy, everyone!
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