Chart: Pre-Christmas marijuana product sales increase up to 53%

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‘Tis the season for increased holiday spending – and that includes outlays on recreational cannabis products, which saw average category sales increases of more than 50% in 2018 on items designated for both gift-giving and personal consumption.

Data from Seattle-based cannabis analytics firm Headset shows that sales in the pre-Christmas week (Dec. 18-Dec. 24) in 2018 increased by a range of 11% to 53% versus average daily sales at recreational stores in California, Colorado, Nevada and Washington state.

Topicals, beverages and edibles experienced the greatest gains, with sales of topicals increasing 53% over the average day while beverages and edibles each grew 36%.

The data contributes to the growing body of research related to cannabis consumer shopping habits, but the motivation behind purchases – whether they are for personal consumption or designated as gifts – can’t be completely understood through Headset’s retail data.

The firm’s data comes from retail point-of-service (POS) scanners. While it shows what an individual bought, it doesn’t indicate what they intend to do with the product.

“We can only speculate on what people do with products once they walk out the door,” said Cooper Ashley, data analyst for Headset.

“We do see certain product categories show up more around gift-related holidays.

“Considering anecdotal experience in the market and the transactional data that we see repeat itself every year, it is speculation but also a logical conclusion that people are purchasing these items as gifts, especially when we see a big spike in a small category like topicals around a holiday that involves a lot of gifting.”

For example, an item such as an infused lip balm might be designated as a gift, while the increase in edibles sales could be driven by individuals seeking an infused version of their favorite holiday treat for their own consumption.

The increase in infused beverage sales may be related to nondrinkers looking to consume something other than alcohol at holiday social gatherings.

Ashley confirmed that as of Dec. 19, retail patterns in 2018 were holding for this year’s pre-Christmas sales, with topicals, edibles and beverages leading the charge.

Here’s what else you need to know about Headset’s data:

  • In 2018, overall sales increased by about 15% in the week leading up to Christmas, but sales shrunk approximately 10% in the following weeks.
  • Retailers offer greater-than-average product discounts leading up to the week of Dec. 25, with average markdowns of 11% but less than on 4/20, the unofficial marijuana holiday, when average discounts are closer to 14%.
  • Pre-Christmas cannabis purchasers shop earlier in the day, with peak shopping hours of 1 p.m.-4 p.m. During the balance of the year, retail marijuana sales peak later and remain strong from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Maggie Cowee can be reached at