BOULDER — After retail cannabis sales spiked in mid-March amid fears that the coronavirus would shutter dispensaries, pot shop revenues have nosedived over the past two weeks.
Colorado dispensaries had their busiest day March 23 when Denver briefly flirted with the idea of closing certain types of businesses, which led to a rush on pot shops and liquor stores. City officials backed away from the measure within a matter of hours and later stay-at-home orders in Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado cities treated dispensaries as essential businesses.
Sales that day were roughly 40% higher than they were on the same day in 2019, according to data from Boulder-based BDS Analytics Inc.
By March 27, comparable sales were down about 60%.
“We’ve seen these big spikes, but the declines [that followed days later] actually result in fairly consistent March sales compared to the prior year,” said Jessica Lukas, senior vice president of commercial development at BDS Analytics, during a webinar Friday with consumer packaged goods analysts.
Sales in Colorado mountain towns, which tend to be higher in March than some other months due to spring break vacationers, were hit especially hard.
“The mountain towns have shut down essentially and we don’t have tourists in Colorado,” Lukas said.
While mass hoarding of marijuana products mostly stopped by late March and the total number of daily shoppers declined, customers continued to spend more during each trip to the dispensary, according to BDS data. The average transaction value on March 27 was roughly $85. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, that figure tended to hover between $55 and $75.
The increasing popularity of pick-up and delivery options continued into late March. In California, which has far fewer regulations on the delivery of cannabis products, nearly half of all sales occurred via pick-up or delivery. That’s up from roughly 20% at the beginning of March.
“We have to consider the fact that consumers who would previously shop in stores are now having to utilize pickup and delivery. Does that change how they behave in the future? Does the convenience now resonate with them?” Lukas said. “Even coming out of all of this, will consumers continue to prefer these methods now that they’ve been using them during this time?”