Canadians spent a record $298.1 million on legal recreational weed in March, a 13.8 per cent increase from $263 million spent in February, according to the latest retail data from Statistics Canada.
The daily spending average in March also bounced back to a record $9.62 million, slightly ahead of December’s previous all-time high of $9.61 million.
March sales rose 2.8 per cent on a per-day basis over February. In the 28 days of February, the daily spending average climbed to $9.39 million, compared to $9.02 million posted in January.
The Canadian legal adult-use market is currently on pace to reach just under $3.6 billion in 2021, according to StatsCan’s latest figures.
That’s up from sales of $2.6 billion reported last year and the $1.2 billion recorded in 2019.
A key to growing sales in the country has been the increase of store openings in populous provinces like Ontario.
While sales increased in every province and territory in March, Ontario led the charge with a 19.2-per-cent monthly increase to $103.4 million.
Ontario had opened its 100th store in June 2020.
But since then the province of 14.5 million has increased its monthly store rollout on three separate occasions.
According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, over 700 stores have been authorized to open in the province with more than 900 applications waiting in the queue.
Alberta boasts the second highest total number of store licences issued at 628, but not all of those locations are open.
The Wild Rose province recorded the second-highest weed sales in March at $58.9 million, up 10.3 per cent from February.
In Quebec, cannabis sales increased 10.4 per cent to $48.3 million. La belle province had 68 stores open in March, the same reported total in February.
The Quebec government sells recreational weed to its 8.5 million citizens only through its retail monopoly.
British Columbia reported a 11.7-per-cent sales increase in March, reaching a total of $41.3 million.
The West Coast province has issued the third-highest number of store licences in the country at 348.
However, legal weed has had to compete with a long-established unregulated market that offers premium weed at lower prices compared to the legal space.
While Vancouver, B.C. is the eighth most populated city in Canada, it recorded cannabis sales of $12.5 million in March.
By comparison, Toronto led all cities with $39.1 million in March sales, followed by Montreal with $24.8 million and Edmonton at $19.7 million.
StatsCan’s other provincial weed sales totals in March and monthly increases were:
- Saskatchewan: $13 million, up 8.8 per cent;
- Manitoba: $11.2 million, up 15.1 per cent;
- Nova Scotia: $7.8 million, up 11.2 per cent;
- New Brunswick: $6.6 million, up 13.4 per cent;
- Newfoundland: $4.6 million up 13.9 per cent; and
- Prince Edward Island: $1.7 million, up 11 per cent.
Monthly adult-use cannabis sales totaled $760,000 in the Yukon territory and $626,000 in the Northwest Territories. No figure was available for Nunavut.
National retail sales across all sectors increased 3.6 per cent to $57.6 billion in March, according to StatsCan.
The federal agency noted that provincial Covid-19 health measures in several regions across the country continued to directly affect the retail sector in March.
Based on respondent feedback, StatsCan said 2.1 per cent of retailers across all industries were closed at some point in March.