While some Canadian jurisdictions, like British Columbia and Ontario, continue to grow their cannabis markets at a rapid rate, others are struggling to keep up.
That’s according to Statistics Canada’s latest retail trade figures, released Friday, which show Canadian adult-use pot revenue hitting another record of $356.9 million in August, up 5 per cent over July.
In August, B.C. weed sales rose 7 per cent to $52.3 million, for the first time overtaking Quebec, where sales inched up 0.2 per cent to $52.2 million.
B.C. has a population of around 5.1 million, compared to Quebec’s of nearly 8.5 million.
One notable difference between the two is Quebec’s public monopoly on cannabis retail, and B.C.’s more typical mix of public and private stores. With some stated difficulties, La Belle Province has managed to add a few new locations over the past year, but it can’t keep pace with the rate that new private shops can pop up in B.C.
There are other reasons for the gap too.
Mike Babins, co-owner of Evergreen Cannabis in Vancouver, says his brother who lives in Quebec gives him regular updates on what he buys.
“It looks like Quebec has slowed down with bringing in new products,” Babins tells Mugglehead by email. “As well, the fact that they do not offer edibles or vape cartridges is likely having a huge impact.”
In Vancouver alone, sales shot up 21 per cent to $17.9 million from $14.8 million, the biggest monthly jump of the year.
In the coming months, B.C. municipalities that didn’t initially allow pot shops, like West Vancouver and Delta, are set to approve their first stores.
As it continues to plough ahead with store authorizations, sales are soaring in Ontario, up 10 per cent to $139.3 million.
In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, markets contracted slightly, down 2 per cent to $8.6 million and 1 per cent to $7.2 million, respectively.
Cannabis revenue rose 12 per cent to $14.3 million in Manitoba, and 2 per cent to 13.4 in Saskatchewan.
Sales fell less than a per cent to $60.5 million in Alberta, where it’s doubtful that adding more stores will boost the market. The province lists 695 licensed retailers. A ratio of one store to 10,000 customers suggests a sweet spot of around 437.
Across all sectors, StatsCan says retail sales were up 2.1 per cent to $57.2 billion in August, led by higher sales at food and beverage stores (up 4.8 per cent), gasoline stations (up 3.8 per cent) and clothing stores (up 3.9 per cent).