'People are certainly buying more': Cannabis stores attribute spike in sales to COVID-19
EDMONTON -- Legal recreational cannabis sales saw a spike in Alberta over the month of March according to some of the province's major retailers.
As the COVID-19 crisis began to hit the province, it appears as though pot smokers decided to stock up.
"We’ve seen a significant increase in sales, particularly as we entered into the COVID phase – in and around March 12 and that was sustained for about two weeks," Fire & Flower Chief Financial Officer, Nadia Vattovaz told CTV News from Toronto via video chat.
"We have since that time seen a little bit of a drop off, but it’s actually returning to pre-levels," she said.
Nova Cannabis reported a similar trend.
"It’s not the customer count that’s increasing, it’s the basket size," said Nova Cannabis President, Marcie Kiziak through video chat from one of her west end stores in Edmonton.
In the month of March, total purchase price per customer at Nova stores increased from February by 19 per cent.
Compared to the first half of March, those same stores saw a 17.5 per cent increase in basket size over the second half.
"People are certainly buying more. We are seeing some new consumers to the industry. I don’t know if it’s because people feel like if they’re at home, they might as well give it a shot," she said.
According to Kiziak, they’re not only seeing a change in how much customers are buying but what they’re buying as well.
"We’ve seen a pretty significant increase in 2.0 products in terms of what people are looking for," said Kiziak.
"People are looking for edible products and oils and capsules – is really what we’re seeing the largest increase in right now... It’s obviously something that doesn’t have to go into their lungs," she noted.
As cannabis stores have been deemed an essential service in Alberta, many of the retailers remain open – some at reduced hours.
While the shops continue to see traffic, extra steps have been put in place to try to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.
"It’s really important that we do everything we can to be a solution in so far as social distancing, making sure that the you know our cleaning protocols are very rigorous," said Fire & Flower’s Nadia Vattavoz.
"We’re doing all sorts of things," said Nova Cannabis’ Marcie Kiziak. "Including line management, making sure that there’s not too many people in the store, making sure that we can still provide for social distancing so if we have to limit the number of people in the store in some cases we will."
Another option for buying weed is online.
Customers can go to the Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis website and have their pot delivered to their homes.
Cannabis retailer, NewLeaf Cannabis announced Friday that it’s launched a new option on its website.
In a news release, NewLeaf said that a new “click & collect” option called NewLeaf Express Pickup had been added to its page.
As for the reason for the larger purchases in March, Nova Cannabis' Marcie Kiziak said she’s not really sure.
"I think that there were some people who were afraid that the stores were going to close."