As cannabis businesses settle in to watch 4/20 marketing plans unfurl on what is typically the biggest sales day of the year, here are three things the sales data tells us:

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The week before the 4/20 marijuana holiday is mediocre, and the week after is even worse

April 20 has been the single biggest sales day each year since legal recreational marijuana sales began, according to Headset, a Seattle-based cannabis data analytics firm that monitors retails sales.

Looking at the full week, the proportion of sales that take place on 4/20 has been growing year-over-year.

Year 4/20 day of week Percentage of weekly sales
2016 Wednesday 20.9%
2017 Thursday 26.3%
2018 Friday 30.8%
2019 Saturday 27.4%
2020 Monday 18.7%

While it didn’t help that 4/20 fell on a Monday last year, which tends to have lower sales in general, the decline in sales percentage for the day was likely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and the unwillingness of customers to gather at in-person store events.

But companies would be remiss not to consider the day or week as part of a larger revenue ecosystem.

While analysis shows the week of 4/20 often ranked among the top 10 sales weeks of the year revenue-wise, the week before was often mediocre and the week after even worse.

As 4/20 is also a big time for discounting, it’s no surprise the weeks before and after don’t hold the same luster.

Consumers are more than likely waiting to purchase until promotions start the week of the event and then stocking up

In 2018, the week after 4/20 was the worst revenue week of the year when looking at combined sales in California, Colorado, Nevada and Washington state.

Chart showing where 4-20 ranks in the year for total sales.

 

The impact of 4/20 in relation to the rest of year could also be diminishing.

The week of 4/20 ranked fourth for revenue in 2017 using only data from Colorado and Washington state.

In 2018, the first year of data with all four states, the week of 4/20 fell to seventh place for revenue and declined to ninth in 2019.

It’s hard to say if the trend would have continued into 2020 as the COVID-19 shutdowns changed established revenue patterns from previous years.

4/20 anchors an increasing shift toward year-end revenue

One thing is clear in the sales data: Without 4/20 celebrations, marijuana retailers would suffer a lean first part of the year.

Analysis of where the top revenue weeks fall throughout the year indicate that retailers are becoming more reliant on summer consumer spending – and even more dependent on end-of-year festivities.

Top ten revenue weeks by month for adult-use marijuana sales.

 

None of the top 10 weeks (based on revenue) for 2016-20 have fallen in January, February, March or May.

Most of the highest-revenue weeks during that same time fell in late summer, starting with August, or in December.

In 2019, high-revenue weeks shifted almost entirely toward the last part of the year, leaving the week of 4/20 as a stark sales high point for the first six months of the year.

It’s hard to say if a normal 4/20 will return in 2021

Adult-use marijuana sales for the week of 4/20 continued to grow last year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Combined sales for California, Colorado, Nevada and Washington state reached $158.9 million that week in 2020, an increase of 24% over the previous year.

But it’s hard to say if that was normal, since the week of 4/20 in 2019 experienced 42% year-over-year growth.

COVID-19 restrictions, the hesitancy of consumers to shop in-person and rampant unemployment might have stunted sales last 4/20.

Revenue for the week of 4/20 in 2020 didn’t crack the top 10 for the first time in three years, settling in at a disappointing 40th place.

Retailers certainly made that up in the following weeks, as consumers spent at an above-average rate from August to December.

The rollout of vaccinations provides hope for marijuana executives that the industry will return to normal this year.

But with 4/20 once again falling during the pandemic, it’s hard to know how the holiday will fare in relation to the rest of the year.

Andrew Long can be reached at andrew.long@mjbizdaily.com.