As the pandemic raged on, British Columbians bought record amounts of legal weed and alcohol over the past year.
Cannabis sales climbed 141 per cent and alcohol sales rose 15 per cent over a record-breaking previous year, according to the BC Liquor Distribution Branch 2020/21 Annual Service Plan Report.
The LDB’s total net income increased by 4.9 per cent to $1.16 billion, off of total sales of $4.1 billion.
The agency added 10 more government-run BC Cannabis Stores for a total of 25 at the end of the fiscal year on March 31. It also supported adding 127 private retailers to its wholesale business for a total of 305.
According to the B.C. government website, there are now 27 publicly owned BC Cannabis Stores and 338 private stores open for business.
The LDB says it increased its product assortment to 1,062 from 99 licensed suppliers, up from 591 products from 50 licensed suppliers.
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It also “enhanced retail customer service by providing new online and in-store experiences, such as improved website engagement and the addition of ordering tablets in stores.”
Results from the LDB’s first feedback surveys show 86-per-cent retail customer satisfaction, and 71-per-cent wholesale customer satisfaction. That’s compared to 68-per-cent satisfaction for wholesale alcohol customer satisfaction.
The customer feedback is based on 5,000 responses gathered from in-store tablets. Engagement was limited by the pandemic, the LDB notes, but the tablets will be rotated through five different stores in future quarters.
Wholesale product flower assortment and consistent inventory in stock improved throughout the year, the distribution branch says.
“The supply of products in new categories, such as edibles, beverages and vapes broadened and stock reliability in these categories improved considerably throughout the year, which enabled more consistent access to products for customers,” reads the report.
Average price per gram for dried flower dropped by 24 per cent, driven by larger-format offerings, which the LDB says made legal cannabis more competitive with the illicit market.
“Wholesale distribution improved customer experience by realigning delivery routes within cities and regions and implementing better inventory management by product potency,” continues the report.
The LDB says its wholesale distribution lowered freight costs by 66 per cent by “realigning transportation routes to optimize delivery to retail stores within the same cities and regions, and supported a 200-per-cent increase in outbound shipments.”
The branch reports that store compliance with ID-checking requirements was 100 per cent, and that customer awareness of its social responsibility programs — which include responsible use programs and a partnership with the BC Food Bank — was 76 per cent.
According to the report, plastic shrink wrap was eliminated the LDB’s Richmond distribution centre, leading to an overall 95-per-cent diversion of waste to the landfill.