This report examines the relationship between environmental factors—weather, days of the week, and time of day—and the habits of cannabis consumers. The information provided here is based off of Washington State sales data collected by Headset, sorted by day of the week and time of day, as well as current weather data for the Seattle/Tacoma area. Together, this information will offer an excellent cross-reference for cannabusiness people curious about the “why” behind the “what” of consumer purchasing patterns.
While discussions of the weather are usually written off as meaningless small talk, our data shows that, when it comes to the cannabis industry, weather matters. Indeed, our data shows that a variety of external conditions affect the cannabis buying experience, from the most convenient time to stock up for the weekend to the amount of rain customers are forced to fight through to get their cannabis.
This report dives into the ways that these external factors affect the cannabis buying experience. It provides confirmation of some trends that might be obvious, like people buying a more diverse array of items right after work on a Friday, and also offers less obvious insights, like the fact that the gender distribution of cannabis customers doesn’t vary much from day to day.
Businesspeople in all sectors understand that customers act differently on different days, and smart businesspeople look for patterns in that behavior. This report aims to help the cannabis industry master what other industries have had years to perfect: The art of well-timed promotions.
It wouldn’t take a dataset like Headset’s to tell you that lots more people shop on the weekends, as cannabis is still primarily consumed as a recreational substance, but our data tell us a slightly more nuanced story. There are significant boosts in Friday and Saturday purchase totals and basket diversity, but those come later in the day. Sundays, however, see most of their activity in late morning and early afternoon. Thus, scheduling a grower info session at 11am on a Sunday could be a very a wise move, but hosting the same session at 5pm could be a total bust.
The weather data used herein is based off of the GHCND:USW00024233 station at the Seattle/Tacoma International Airport, and the sales data correlated with it is only for stores within 20 miles of that weather station. The weather data was collected in summer of 2016, as well as other time periods in 2017. Those are noted in each graph. Cannabis holiday “4/20” has been excluded from the day of the week analysis, as it is obviously an exception to standard sales data, and would throw off the analysis quite a bit.
Data for this report comes from real-time sales reporting by participating Washington State cannabis retailers via their point-of-sale systems, which are linked up with Headset’s business analytics software. The report below uses data for sales in the state of Washington. That data is cross-referenced with our catalog of over 100,000 products, as well as the aforementioned weather data, to provide detailed information on market trends.
Headset’s data is very reliable, as it comes digitally direct from our partner retailers (and, in this case, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). 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.
Fridays, unsurprisingly, have both the largest average basket size as well as the biggest share of total baskets. Sunday and Monday, which fall after the weekend’s spending surge, are naturally the slowest days. Those days see less than 75% of Friday basket volumes and less than 70% of Friday sales numbers.
As might be expected, given the fact that most workers have 9am-5pm schedules, Fridays and Saturdays see nearly 50% of their sales volume occurring after 5PM. The majority of cannabis sales on Sundays are before 5pm, with the largest volumes in morning and early afternoon. That pot sales are popular during the same time period in which brunch is typically served should shock no one.
Data shows that people tend to stock up early in the day, as baskets become smaller as the day progresses. Baskets purchased after 7PM are the smallest, regardless of the day of the week. Cannabis consumers are also no stranger to stocking up for the weekend, as the largest baskets are purchased between 11AM and 12PM on Fridays. Indeed, those baskets also contain larger individual items, as the increase is not correlated with a significant increase in the overall number of items purchased. While more items are purchased on Fridays, they tend to have a higher average item price, which correlates the stocking up theory. Interestingly, purchases before 11AM are more likely to have only 1 item than those made at any other point in the day.
Certain products demonstrate more popularity with weekend buyers, suggesting that they’re more associated with a special occasion or indulgence. Beverages and Edibles are two examples—the bulk of their sales occurring on the weekend (Friday-Sunday) at 52.1% and 51.1%, respectively.
Vapor Pens and Capsules, on the other hand, clock in at 43.9% and 43.0%, respectively. This trend becomes more apparent when looking at the basket penetration of each category broken down by day of the week. Basket penetration is the % of total transactions/receipts that contained a given category). On weekdays, less than 9% of baskets contain an Edible product, but this climbs over 11% on weekends. Flower and Concentrates are also present in a smaller portion of baskets on weekends than on weekdays.
Within these categories, we see the weekday/weekend disparity is based on a handful of segments. For example, the basket penetration boost for beverages is due to an increase in Carbonated Beverage Sales. In Edibles we see Brownies, Caramels & Chews, Chocolates, and Cookies driving the increase. In Pre-Rolls, Hybrid and Sativa Single Strains are responsible.
Our data show that the gender breakdown of sales is not affected by day of the week. Men make up about 70% of the total baskets purchased across the board.
This is also true for consumer age—no particular age group shops more on one day than another. However, there is one exception: shoppers under 25 make up a smaller percentage of the baskets on weekends than they do on weekdays. Perhaps millennials don’t need the weekend as an excuse to toke up?
While age doesn’t affect the day of the week on which people want to shop, we do see a pronounced difference in what period of the day consumers prefer to shop based on age. Consumers that are 25 or younger make almost one third of their purchases after 7PM, while consumers 45 and older make less than 15% of their trips after 7PM. Sometimes, stereotypes are supported by statistics, it would seem!
As might be expected, people are less inclined to make the trip to their local pot shop when it’s raining cats and dogs. Weather, specifically rain, has a small impact on sales, with clear days seeing sales that were about 2% higher on average than sales on rainy days. Rainy Fridays seemed to be extra discouraging to consumers, with a 10% decrease in sales compared to the average Friday. Rain is not a great way to start the weekend for anyone, apparently. For reference, “No Rain” means no precipitation was recorded on that day, “Kind of Rainy” is any amount of precipitation less than .2 inches, and “Rainy” is any amount of precipitation greater than .2 inches. The data above is for the months of March, April and May in 2016, excluding 4/20. Weather data is from the Tacoma/Seattle Airport station as reported by NOAA.
Temperature also seems to have some impact on sales. Warm days (with highs of over 65 degrees) saw an increase of about 5% on average compared to cooler days
All categories see increases in sales when its nice out, with Topicals seeing the largest boost. This increase is due mostly to an increase in Lotions/Salves on warm days. Topicals is one of the smallest categories to begin with, so it’s important to note that any increased sales activity will appear as a significant spike.
While some of the trends shown in the above data might be commonsense—people shop later on days that are associated with nightlife— understanding when customers are most motivated to shop is crucial. For example, knowing that there is a sales slump after those days allows smart retailers to push products appropriately, offering specials and promoting traditionally strong sellers like flower and pre-roll.
Similarly, developing data-based associations between weather and product categories, like the ones listed above, will allow even more precise control for retailers. We would imagine that, as the industry’s branding efforts evolve sooner, we could even begin to see products marketed based on such associations. It’s unreasonable to think that a lime-flavored cannabis soda could be marketed similarly to summer-friendly alcohol products, like Bud Light Lime or Smirnoff Ice. Currently, a sales boost for beverages on hot days isn’t reflected in the data, but as marketing techniques evolve and Headset continues to track sales data, it could very well emerge.
Indeed, as data continues to build, the industry can expect to see weather-based distinctions shake out across the categories. The current data on when people shop may be more set in stone, as it reflects things that are a little more reliable than the weather, like the standard 9am5pm workweek. Headset also gathers data in cannabis markets well beyond Washington State, and we’ll be very interested to see how climate factors affect sales in other markets once that dataset grows.
Either way, it’s always interesting to see whether data proves or disproves the conventional wisdom on a topic, and we’re thrilled to have statistical evidence that factors like when people are shopping or what the weather is like do have a measurable effect on sales. Breaking these insights down further into the categories unique to cannabis, as well as by demographic category, offers even more actionable information for cannabis businesses. We’re excited to see how these correlations change in the next few years of the cannabis industry’s evolution!
Headset is market data and business intelligence for the cannabis industry. Our extensive Industry Report deep-dives into specific brands to help businesses better monitor the competitive landscape and perform exhaustive category analysis. Reports are generated via aggregate, real-time transaction data to get a unique and thorough analysis of what’s happening in the Washington market.
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