July 16, 2020
Sales of cannabis have continued to stay at pre-pandemic levels in the US, according to the cannabis market research firm BDSA. Compared to the retail turmoil seen in March and April, consumers appear to have returned to their regular cannabis spending habits.
On March 12, 2020, the Covid-19 outbreak was officially classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. One day later, thousands of cannabis dispensaries across the US were experiencing record sales as consumers stockpiled for the weeks ahead.
But this retail boom was swiftly followed by a lull. For the rest of March and throughout much of April, cannabis sales fell well below average rates for the time of year. At their worst, multi-state sales rates were 55 percent below average around April 13, according to BDSA.
Then, as US states slowly withdrew their lockdown restrictions in late April and early May, cannabis sales started to recover.
In key states, such as Colorado and California, revenue began a steady positive pattern around early May. This trend continued into June, when both states saw sales peak each Friday. According to BDSA, sales in Colorado were 42 percent higher than the yearly average on the last Friday of June; in California, they were 33 percent higher.
However, since the start of the year, neither of these key states have managed to outperform the growth seen in Oregon and Arizona. According to BDSA, cannabis sales in both states have increased month by month from February.
Compared to figures from the same month in 2019, Oregon saw 21 percent more marijuana revenue in February, 31 percent more in March, 40 percent more in April, and 58 percent more in May. Sales in Arizona followed a similar trend and also peaked at 58 percent above last year’s figure in May.
“You can see Arizona is enjoying very strong growth compared to last year,” said BDSA’s CEO, Roy Bingham, during a recent presentation at MJ Unpacked.
“But the one that really shocks me is Oregon – up 58 percent in May compared to last year,” he continued. “I would think of Oregon as a mature market, kind of like Colorado, but something extraordinary is happening in the growth of legal cannabis [there].”
Yet not every state is relishing such a rebound. In Nevada – a state that largely depends on tourism to support its cannabis industry – sales have still yet to fully recover. In fact, revenue was significantly lower in March, April, and May compared to the same months in 2019.
And other states may soon experience similar problems. On July 13, California Governor Gavin Newsom re-imposed a semi-state of lockdown following Covid-19 infection spikes across the US. If other states follow suite, cannabis sales could return to unpredictable rates, as Roy Bingham warned during his presentation.
“There is more normalization going on now,” he said. “And fairly regular, weekly patterns have been established in most states up to now, although that may be disrupted again with the possibility of the lockdown that’s coming in.”