Retail sales of regulated cannabis ascended to a new high in Canada in May, growing nearly 4.2% from April.
But a quarter of all sales occurred in only one province, Alberta – the result of retail-store imbalances across the country.
That edges out the previous monthly record high, which was set in March as Canadian consumers stocked up on marijuana in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The monthly figure implies a CA$2.2 billion annualized cannabis market in Canada, Stifel analysts Andrew Carter and Christopher Growe observed in a note sent to clients Tuesday.
“We consider this performance resilient and robust as store closures lingered during May serving as a headwind to sales,” wrote the analysts, who estimate the Canadian market will exceed CA$2.4 billion in sales this year.
Canadian cannabis sales fell marginally between March and April but remained strong overall.
Statistics Canada’s Tuesday release revised the April figure downward slightly, to CA$178.4 million from the previous figure of CA$180.1 million.
May cannabis sales were highest in Canada’s fourth-largest province, Alberta, which has nearly 500 licensed cannabis stores, far more than any other province.
Alberta cannabis sales grew by 9.4% over April to CA$46.3 million, or nearly 25% of Canada’s total cannabis sales for the month.
Monthly sales growth was more modest in Canada’s largest market, Ontario, where the per capita store count still lags.
Ontarians spent CA$41.1 million on cannabis in May, a 2.2% increase over April.
Monthly sales declined by 6.1% in Quebec, the second-largest market, to CA$38.5 million.
Stifel’s Carter and Growe attributed Quebec’s sales decrease to “some pantry de-loading as sales remained robust through the first two months of store closures, as well as the significant pricing compression on dried flower.”
Quebec’s total ban on cannabis vapes and regulatory restrictions on marijuana edibles “will likely limit this market’s potential,” they wrote.
British Columbia, the nation’s third-largest market, recorded a 13.8% monthly increase to CA$27.1 million.
Monthly marijuana sales also increased in every other province except New Brunswick, which experienced a monthly decline of 6.5% to CA$5.1 million.
Tiny Prince Edward Island experienced the greatest monthly growth, with sales bouncing back by 32.2% to CA$575,000 as provincial cannabis stores reopened in May.