'Tis the Season: Holiday Buying Patterns in Cannabis

'Tis the Season: Holiday Buying Patterns in Cannabis

Departments - Upfront | Sales Trends

A regional look at holiday buying patterns.

November 20, 2018

Cannabis has its oddball holiday, 4/20, which has been the industry’s biggest sales day every year since recreational sales began in 2014. But the traditional holiday season also sees an uptick in sales figures—starting with Thanksgiving and running through New Year’s Day.

In Colorado, for example, December 2017 saw $130.3 million in cannabis sales, according to data from BDS Analytics. By contrast, November 2017 sales hit $121.2 million, and January 2018 sales reached $119.7 million. The story is roughly the same in Oregon: December’s sales were $48.5 million, beating both November ($44.6 million) and January ($46.3 million). California, where legal sales were only conducted through medical channels last year, saw December sales reach $259 million, well above November’s $233-million figure.

Colorado’s and Oregon’s biggest sales day of the 2017 season, however, was in November. Black Friday, Nov. 24, saw $9.3 million in sales between the states. The Friday before Christmas came in second, with $8.4 million. And the Friday before New Year’s Eve, Dec. 29, was the third-biggest sales day, with a combined $8 million in sales.

Here’s a look at Colorado and Oregon sales from last year’s three major holiday shopping days to see what’s hot during the season.

Black Friday

Black Friday stands out for flower. The category captured 45.8 percent of all cannabis sales the day before Thanksgiving, compared to 44 percent on the Fridays before New Year’s Eve and Christmas. Concentrates, too, were popular, garnering 29.2 percent of sales. Market share for edibles, meanwhile, fell to 14.1 percent compared to a 16-percent market share on other major holiday sales days.

Among edibles: Chocolate bars, which captured 17 percent of Black Friday sales, beat the total market share for November, which stood at 15 percent. Black Friday shoppers dig their chocolate.

The day doesn’t stand apart in terms of concentrates sales. Market share for vapes (45 percent) was down 1 percentage point compared to the market share for the month. Meanwhile, sales of live resin and wax were slightly above the monthly average.

December 22

Edibles sales dominated the Friday before Christmas. Consumers dropped $1.3 million on edibles, representing 16.1 percent of all cannabis sales. Gummies snagged 39 percent of the edibles market that day (up from 37-percent market share for the entire month). Chocolate bars (16 percent) were the second most popular, followed by droppers (9 percent).

Christmas shoppers like vapes, too: The category captured 50 percent of concentrates sales—2 percentage points above the month’s average. With a market share of 12 percent, live resin bested its December market-share average.

December 29

In terms of what people bought, sales on the Friday before New Year’s Eve fell somewhere in the middle of the other big days of the season. Flower was the most popular with 44.5 percent of sales—similar to the Friday before Christmas. Market share for edibles (15.6 percent) also tied Dec. 22. Concentrates nabbed 28.7 percent of cannabis sales. Drilling down, gummies grabbed 38 percent of all edibles sales (beating the monthly average), followed by chocolate bars with 15 percent (just behind the monthly average of 16 percent) and droppers at 10 percent (tied with the monthly average).

As with Christmas, vapes’ market share made up 50 percent of concentrate sales.

The message for retailers: The season does not mark a dramatic change in normal buying habits the way Thanksgiving might drive turkey sales or how sales of baking essentials spike during the December holidays. Instead, the holidays drive consumers to dispensaries to buy more of what they like, so make sure to plan for increased demand.

Douglas Brown is the owner of Contact High Communications. He can be reached at doug@contacthighco.com.