I held out on the latest edition of the newsletter, because I wanted to spend some time researching the effect of April 20, aka 420, and the entire month of April on Oklahoma’s cannabis industry. As you can see in the chart on cannabis tax receipts below, the effect isn’t as clear in the first full year of retail sales after voters authorized medical marijuana in 2018.
Purchases gradually trended upward during the spring of 2019. The effect then becomes more pronounced the following year in 2020 when April appears to have been an important time for the industry. Some of those sales could be attributable to the pandemic, of course. But my sense is that cannabis retailers can work throughout the month of April to target new and return customers beyond the holiday of 420 itself.
I’m sure there are other cannabis consumers in the state who had experiences like my own on the date of 4/20. I felt so overwhelmed by the number of competing deals and events planned for that day, I didn’t end up going to any dispensaries. But I’m still interested in your offerings during other days of the month when I feel less-rushed in what is often a cramped retail space as I’m trying to learn the products, read the labelling, and determine my needs and interests.
The cannabis industry site mg Magazine had one of the better posts I’ve seen exploring this. They looked at several data sources. One found that in the four days leading up to April 20 last year, cannabis beverages, topicals, and concentrates all saw significant growth in the United States ranging from 40 percent to 50 percent.
A second source, LeafLink, looks at all of April leading up to the 20 each year. They saw more modest growth in 2020 sales data of up to 18 percent during the first weeks of April. They also determined that flower was the most popular product followed by cartridges and pre-packaged flower.
Then there’s I Heart Jane, a site similar to Weedmaps that also looked at sales data from 2020 to learn more about the month, according to mg:
“Sales for the entire week leading up to 420 were 35 percent higher than regular weeks in the two previous years. Sales on 420 were 167 percent higher than sales on average days in 2018 and 2019. Flower, vapes, pre-rolls, and edibles experienced the sharpest increases in sales compared to 420 purchases during previous years.”
Here’s another interesting trend. The cannabis tech firm Cova Software detected that online cannabis sales did not increase significantly on April 20 itself this year. But they did find that “a significantly higher proportion of people purchased cannabis online in the days leading to 420.”
Cova speculates this could be consumers purchasing cannabis in advance of 420 celebrations rather than wanting to buy it on the actual date. They also see parallels between the traditional holiday season and the importance of the month of April for the cannabis industry:
“Just as retail stores do for the holiday seasons and occasions like Black Friday, cannabis businesses must also prepare to ramp up all their operations in a big way on this big day. And since 4/20 in 2020 was supposed to be a month-long celebration but was disrupted due to Covid-19, cannabis sales in 2021 are expected to bounce back with a vengeance this 420.”
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