Post 4/20 update: What consumers did on 4/20 2019

Team Headset
January 17, 2020
 min read
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Out of date report alert
Heads up! This report was published a while ago and is now considered out of date. To get all of the latest insights into the vapor pen market, check out our most recent report!

Executive Summary

This report is a focused snapshot of 4/20/2019 that examines the overarching sales numbers, as well as more granular trends within those. It will be interesting to anyone who wants to understand more about what people bought on the biggest day in cannabis this year, but especially to retailers and industry insiders whose business it is to capitalize on the celebration,


One might think, after four years of legal cannabis, the magic of 4/20 would have worn off, at least in terms of wild sales spikes. Not so. Consumers still flocked to stores on the big day this year, seeking the deals that have become synonymous with what was once an obscure stoner culture celebration. Retailers routinely see spikes of 100% or more, and have since the onset of legalization. This year was no exception.

But as a day that was once simply about widespread cannabis consumption has evolved into a shopping bonanza not unlike Black Friday, certain sales trends have emerged. For instance, Beverages enjoy the most pronounced spike in sales, joined by other single-use categories like Pre-Rolls.

There’s also the hype leading up to 4/20, which drives sales higher than on similar days of the week in other months. And, of course, the crash afterwards, which sees sales slump for 4/21 and the immediately following days. Getting more granular than that, we looked at which particular hours saw the most sales, which is important for anyone trying to plan festivities, or staff their shop, around the day. Lastly, we broke down the categories - crucial information for curating 4/20 displays or promotions. 

Year after year, 4/20 is quite the day for cannabis. While it began as a simple “stoner holiday,” for cannabis lovers to get together and consume, it has become a different beast entirely under legalization.


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. This report is based on data collected from retailers on 4/20/2019 and the four previous Saturdays. We used the same methodology for Friday 4/19 and Sunday 4/21. 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 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.

More than double

This year saw a sales boost that slightly exceeded our predictions, with sales up 128% when compared to the four previous Saturdays. We’d predicted between 100% and 120%. We also predicted a significant increase in sales on the day before 4/20 because 4/19 was on a Friday this year. Fridays are already the most popular days for pot, of course, but this one saw a sizable boost of 27% over the previous four.

However, after the sales boost there is the inevitable hangover. Sales dropped 25% compared to a typical spring Sunday. Another interesting aspect of this graph is the average discounts offered on each day. Obviously 4/20 enjoys the biggest discounts, but the lower discount levels did not have much effect on the pre and post-4/20 trends.


4/20 moves units

An alternative view into the power of 4/20 is examining the holiday’s impact on unit volumes. Of all units sold between April 1st and April20th this year, 12% were sold on 4/20 alone. That’s definitely the lion’s share, even for a weekend day. For those of you keeping score at home, an equal proportion would be 5%.

This statistic provides more evidence that 4/20 is a blowout affair. While plenty of consumers are there to splurge on a Beverage or Pre-Rollto celebrate, it would seem the majority are there to get a lot of cannabis for not a lot of money. Thus the high unit volume.


Early bird gets the weed

That 4/20 is the absolute best day for cannabis sales of the year is clear, but beyond that, the day’s sales take a slightly different shape than an average day. Compared to typical Saturdays in 2019, sales peak noticeably earlier in the day. This is likely due to consumer exuberance about 4/20 deals. As expected, transaction volume sees a big dip after 4:20pm on 4/20. It’s not quite camping out atWal-Mart at 5am, but it is worth noting that the world’s cannabis lovers got out of bed an hour early for deals and want to be home and celebrating by 4:20pm.


Category growth

While all categories saw some growth this year, most of the top performers have one thing in common: they are ready to consume right out the door. Edibles, Beverages, and Pre-Rolls all saw significant boosts in either top line sales or total unit sales. Edibles and Beverages saw the biggest increase in both stats, while Pre-Rolls — usually a category with a low item prices — saw a bigger increase in units than in overall sales. Categories more typically associated with medicinal use, such as Capsules and Tinctures ranked low, reflecting the recreational tone of the celebration



This year’s 4/20 reinforced many of the same sales trends we’ve seen since the first year of legal cannabis. Single-serve items continue to dominate the day, with Beverages and Edibles extending their streak at the top. The hangover we’ve seen on the day after also returns for an encore, and while 4/20 falling on a weekend changes the hourly sales data a bit, it does so in a very predictable way.

All things considered, we’re beginning to see patterns emerge for 4/20 that will probably endure as legalization spreads. Because of the holiday’s legendary origins — it supposedly began as a planned meeting time for a group of cannabis-loving high schoolers — it is uniquely focused on consumption. People who participate in 4/20, whether they’re old enough or online enough to know why it’s even a thing, all know it’s about enjoying a bit of pot. Perhaps they’re passing a joint around with some friends, relaxing in the bath after an edible, or knocking back an infused “canna-beer,” but they’re definitely buying and consuming cannabis the day of. Sales trends reflect that

It is, however, worth considering the possibility that, as the industry further matures, it could shift into something more closely resembling Black Friday, where consumers are encouraged to make large purchases at deep discounts. Right now, category trends indicate that the most effective specials are concentrated on those single-serve items, but cannabis is still relatively new to the world of retail. Time, as they say, will tell. Or, for the cannabis industry, nationwide legalization

About Headset

Headset is a market data and business intelligence platform for the cannabis industry. Our extensive Industry Reports deep-dive into specific categories and aspects of the industry to help businesses better monitor the market 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 cannabis industry as the data becomes available. Headset offers three distinct products that help retailers, dispensaries, brands, product manufacturers, distributors, and investors move ahead in the industry.

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Team Headset
January 17, 2020
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