According to Cova Software, cannabis retail traffic was up almost 10 percent after 4/20. On top of that, sales rebounded 8.4% year-over-year that same day. This data comes from the largest Cannabis Point of Sale (POS) company in North America. While major outages plagued several big POS systems, Cova reported its 4th straight year of perfect uptime. Additionally, the company is reporting benchmark transaction speeds at 1.4 seconds. During peak hours on 4/20, Cova was processing 380 cannabis transactions per minute and handled over 180,000 transactions for the day across 1,200+ dispensaries.
Cannabis Sales Bounce Back
April 20th, the “Cannabis Holiday” has historically marked the cannabis industry’s biggest sales day of the year. However, when looking at the past 3 years, 4/20 fell on distinctively different climates. 2019 was a normal (non-COVID) year. Dispensaries in Canada and the legal US States fought hard to be open by 4/20 and procure the maximum amount of inventory to meet the surge in demand. They were rewarded with the biggest cannabis sales day ever.
Last year saw a COVID shutdown of all retail businesses in March, followed by various re-openings of dispensaries by state or province in April. There were also restrictions on how cannabis stores could sell. Limitations were put in place for online order and curbside pickup, delivery only, and/or limited visitors into the dispensary. 4/20 2020 proved to be a better than average day but didn’t set any sales records.
This year was nowhere near a return to normalcy. Some municipalities were locked down for non-essential travel, while others were open for business but with 6-foot restrictions in place. Nevertheless, the industry saw an 8.4% increase in sales over 4/20/20, despite several US POS systems crashing amid the higher volume. This forced nearly 2,000 dispensaries to turn customers away for hours.
“Preparations for 4/20 last year were tentative, as our industry was just being recognized as essential,” said Cova CEO Gary Cohen regarding year’s 4/20. “The supply of cannabis products was plentiful, but demand was a big question. It turned out there was a huge demand from consumers and patients, and because of COVID relief checks in April, they had money to spend in dispensaries. This year, the relief was not timed around 4/20, but employment is higher, and access to stores easier. Overall, 2021 was a great 4/20.”
New Stores Enter the Industry
Based on Cova data, the average invoice per transaction in the US was $76.26, increasing 9% over 2020. The average invoice was $52.48 for Canada, a decrease of 2% from a year earlier. Dispensaries across North America saw 9.5% more traffic through their store this year. In Canada, a surge in COVID cases, lag in vaccines, and more lockdowns by provinces created challenges for retailers. Despite that, Canadian cannabis stores processed 5% more transactions on 4/20.
Year over year, approximately 1,000 new dispensaries opened (+20%) in North America. Several geographies greatly expanded dispensary counts and access to cannabis in the past 12 months, namely Ontario, California, Oklahoma, and Missouri (a new medicinal cannabis state in 2021). This year’s better climate and the impact of these markets helped propel overall sales for the cannabis holiday significantly.