Amid coronavirus, Canadian cannabis stores see ‘unprecedented’ sales surge

cannabis stores | corona virus, Amid coronavirus, Canadian cannabis stores see ‘unprecedented’ sales surge

The interior of Spiritleaf's flagship store at Macleod Trail in Calgary.

(This story has been updated with new sales figures for Ontario and Quebec.)

Cannabis stores in Ontario and Alberta reported “unprecedented demand” as the country hunkers down to fight a worsening coronavirus outbreak, industry sources say.

Executives told Marijuana Business Daily there is no threat to supply chains at this time, and safety measures have been put into place for employees and consumers.

Spiritleaf CEO Darren Bondar said his 46 stores “experienced an unprecedented demand for cannabis over the weekend with sales up 20% over the previous one and a record number of customers served.

“The supply chain remains in place, stores are stocked and we have seen an uptick in edible purchases.”

Spiritleaf is encouraging online ordering via click-and-collect programs in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

In most of Canada, provinces retain monopolies over cannabis e-commerce with delivery. The click-and-collect program allows privately owned stores to take payment online so customers can pick up their orders in stores.

Ontario up 80%

Sales surged week-over-week at Ontario’s monopoly online cannabis store, but some of that increased demand is attributable to lower prices.

The government-owned store aggressively dropped prices on some products as part of an ongoing drive to improve competitiveness.

Mike Ravkine, who operates the popular price-tracking and inventory tool WhatsMyPot, recorded significant price drops at the Ontario Cannabis Store.

“The last three days have seen a marked increase in volume in sales on and a high demand for our same day/next day delivery option where it is available,” Daffyd Roderick, OCS communications director, wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily.

“Some authorized retail stores are also reporting an increase in customer volume. Saturday saw almost 3,000 orders, an 80% increase over an average Saturday.”

The OCS’ 4,000 orders Sunday represent a 100% increase from the previous week, officials told MJBizDaily.

Roderick said the OCS has sufficient inventory to meet demand.

“We are working closely with our partners and currently delivering and receiving as per our normal schedule,” he said.

Physical stores in Ontario are also seeing an increase in orders, noted Sessions Cannabis CEO Steven Fry.

“Not unlike major grocery retailers, Sessions Cannabis has seen a significant increase in sales this week due to growing concerns regarding COVID-19 social distancing protocols,” he wrote in an email.

Compared to the previous week, Fry said the Sessions on the Beach location in Toronto saw approximately:

  • A 10% more transactions per day.
  • A 10% increase in dollars spent per transaction.
  • A 21% overall sales growth.

B.C. ‘steady’

British Columbia’s online monopoly BC Cannabis Stores has not seen any new sales trends.

A spokesperson for the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB), which operates the store as well as the province’s cannabis wholesale system, said there has been no change in sales online.

The BCLDB spokesperson also said sales on the wholesale side remain “very flat, steady.”

Alberta Cannabis, the only legal online store in the province, said it is not sharing any information.

Quebec bump

Quebec’s monopoly online store also saw increased sales.

Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC), which is also the wholesaler for the province, said its website remains “fully functional and parcels are still being delivered.”

“Indeed, we have seen an increase in sales over the last days,” spokesman Fabrice Giguere wrote in an email to MJBizDaily.

Giguere said inventory levels, both online and in stores, are stable.

“We invite all customers returning from a trip abroad or who experience flu-like symptoms to do their shopping directly online,” he noted.

Safety first

Physical cannabis stores are taking measures to increase the health and safety of customers and employees to support social distancing.

“Sessions Cannabis is taking extra measures to ensure the safety of our customers and staff through increased cleaning and sanitation measures and we will continue to monitor the situation to ensure a safe shopping experience,” Fry said.

Bondar said Spiritleaf continues to follow all advice and government guidelines.

“All surfaces, door handles and employee stations are being sanitized throughout the workday to maintain a clean, safe environment for all of us,” he said.

“We encourage customers to check on store hours in the event that they may change to accommodate various staff members’ needs to take care of family members or who are returning from vacation and in self-isolation, which has been happening at a few locations across the country.

Shares of Inner Spirit Holdings, owner of the Spiritleaf brand, trade on the Canadian Securities Exchange as ISH.

Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.