Cannabis industry reports

Breaking Down Topline Sales Data by the Baskets 2019

January 17, 2020

Executive summary

This report exists to help retailers and their suppliers better understand consumer behavior. It examines consumer spending patterns by breaking down baskets—the items purchased in a single visit—into granular data points. What individual price points go into overall basket spending numbers? What items from which categories are most frequently bought together? How many items are in the typical basket? This report answers those questions and more.


Topline sales numbers are straightforward. They tell you how a business is doing, but — and this is a big but when it comes to something as nuanced and complex as the cannabis industry — only very generally. While we of course keep close track of topline sales, as they’re the quickest way to understand overall sales performance, we’re also interested in the many component figures that go into that number. To truly understand how a business is doing, you must look at everything from total number of baskets to how many items are purchased in each basket and for how much.

If one of these numbers changes, topline sales can change drastically. Furthermore, each number depends on specific consumer behaviors. This report is dedicated to understanding those behaviors as they relate to the various stats that contribute to topline sales numbers. The four key metrics we examine are Number of Customers, Average Trips Per Customer, Average Items Per Basket, and Average Item Price (AIP). Each of these statistics has its own story to tell and can individually contribute to higher topline sales. A helpful way to think of this is that the number of baskets, which is composed of the number of total customers and the trips per customer, multiplied by average basket size, which is composed of AIP and Average Items Per Basket, gives you topline sales. Changing any one of these inputs affects the overall formula.

For example, we see that most customers purchased at least two categories last year, which demonstrates the importance of maintaining a diverse menu and introducing customers to new categories. Upping the number of categories per purchase is effectively the same as upping the Average Items Per Basket. We also see that discounts play a role in how many items people buy, in that they either drive people to buy low-priced, discounted single-serve items, or more items overall.

Beyond the basic metrics, we’ve also provided a detailed analysis of category sales across baskets, as well as demographic purchasing patterns. This report focuses on those individual baskets, but also the individuals carrying them, to extend the metaphor. 

We hope that anyone reading it will leave with a better understand of what consumers want to buy, what they’ll spend, what impulse buying looks like, and how purchasing patterns differ across stats. There’s plenty of data on all those topics, so dig in and learn!


Data for this report comes from real-time sales reporting by participating Washington State, California, Nevada, and Colorado cannabis retailers via their point-of-sale systems, which are linked up with Headset’s Data Analytics Platform. Demographic data is from voluntary participants in store loyalty programs. Those data are cross-referenced with our catalog of over 330,000 products and $4.5 billion of transactions to provide detailed information on market trends. 

Headset’s data is very reliable, as it comes directly 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. 

Who’s holding the baskets?

First off, we wanted to see who was making the purchases we’d be examining. The bands in this chart do not differ much from what we’ve reported in previous occasions. Millennials carry the bulk of the market share with ~50%, with Gen X and the Baby Boomers holding even parts of it, around 24% each, and the Silent Generation and Gen Z offering up their tiny bookends. 

However, our second chart is what’s more interesting, when it comes to the demographics of cannabis. It’s no secret that Gen Z will be the next big consumer base for pot. Their cannabis-loving forebears, the Millennials, portend it. But here we see it playing out in the numbers: Gen Z has more than tripled their market share in a year, as more and more of them turn 21 (the purchasing age for pot in all US recreational markets). This trend will only carry on—the older they get, the more of them can buy pot—and anyone looking to the long-term in the cannabis industry would be wise to keep paying attention to Gen Z.

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Please fill out this simple form to get access to the full report. Headset industry reports provide vital market insights to help you make truly informed decisions. Get perspective into the following areas:

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
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