British Columbia last in per-person legal cannabis sales, with few physical stores open

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Provinces with more physical cannabis stores saw significantly higher per-person sales in the six weeks following Canada’s legalization of recreational marijuana, according to new data from Statistics Canada – and indication that consumers have a strong preference to buy their cannabis offline.

British Columbia – the province with the biggest underground cannabis economy – reported the lowest per-person legal cannabis purchases, at just 68 Canadian cents per person.

Only 3.3 million Canadian dollars ($2.47 million) was spent on legal cannabis in the province through November 2018.

British Columbia only managed to open one government-run retail store for the first day of legalization while first-day sales from the province’s online channel were described as “horrifying.”

Legal cannabis sales in the province collapsed 56% from October to November, even though October accounted for only two weeks of sales, according to the Statistics Canada data.

Joining British Columbia at the bottom of the pack are Saskatchewan, with CA$1.5 million in sales (CA$1.29 per person), and Ontario, with CA$21.8 million in sales (CA$1.54 per person).

Ontario has failed to open any cannabis stores since legalization, instead relying on online-only sales until April.

Eastern provinces, which opened more stores per capita than the rest of the country, saw notably better sales results.

Prince Edward Island led Canada with CA$13.83 in sales per person, followed by Nova Scotia (CA$11.33) Newfoundland and Labrador (CA$8.17) and New Brunswick (CA$6.87).

Those provinces opened about 35 stores in total on Oct. 17.

Alberta, which saw 17 stores open on day one, was the best performing province in Western Canada, with CA$4.52 in sales per person generated from CA$19.4 million in sales.

Almost CA$100 million was spent on legal cannabis in Canada during the first six weeks of legalization.

From Oct. 17, 2018 – the first day of legalization – to the end of that month, CA$43.07 million was spent on legal cannabis. That rose to CA$54.36 million the following month.

Ontario, despite its troubled roll-out, edged out Quebec to lead Canada in total sales, at CA$21.86 million and CA$21.27 million respectively.

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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