Cannabis Purchases Higher Amid COVID-19 Crisis

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Cannabis purchases higher amid COVID-19 crisis

As an increasing number of Canadians wait out the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic from the safety of their homes, it seems they have been hoarding more than food and toilet paper — many have been stockpiling cannabis.

The Ontario Cannabis Store reports that it has been experiencing a significant spike in sales of dried flowers, via its online portal, since the weekend, as many people shift to e-commerce to limit human contact. Several brick-and-mortar retail stores have also been sharing in the bounty, both at physical stores and online.

“The last few days have seen a marked increase in volume in sales on OCS.ca and a high demand for our same day/next day delivery option where it is available,” stated Daffyd Roderick, the director of communications for the government-run cannabis retailer. “Some authorized retail stores are also reporting an increase in customer volume.”

Saturday saw almost 3,000 orders of pot, an 80 per cent increase over an average Saturday, the OCS is reporting. More 4,000 orders were logged online via OCS.ca on Sunday, a 100 per cent increase from the previous week. More than 6,000 online orders were placed Monday.

Roderick said supply has not been an issue — the OCS, which also sells to retail stores, has sufficient inventory to meet demand.​ Still, the OCS and private cannabis retailers have been contending with a logistical hurdle after Canada Post suspended face-to-face deliveries, as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Our same day/next day delivery options are still available, but with limited capacity,” the OCS noted in a statement. “Our courier continues to check ID, however no longer requires an electronic signature (in order) to maximize social distance.”

Darren Bondar, president and CEO of Inner Spirit Holdings, which operates 46 Spiritleaf stores across the country, said the brand experienced a 20 per cent bump in sales this past weekend.

He said on Monday the average amount spent by customers during one transaction almost doubled, averaging about $50 per transaction.

“On Monday we saw a 58 per cent increase compared to the Monday a week before,” he said.

Buyers are also taking advantage of the OCS and some producers cutting prices across a lot of products.

“There is a perfect storm of a lot of people not going to work and prices being lower than they were before,” Mitchell Osak, cannabis advisory lead and partner at consulting firm MNP.

This may just be a blip in consumer behaviour — a unique time when people feel the need to stock up, says Osak. He notes there will be less disposable income if the country veers towards a deeper economic slowdown.

“It’s too early to tell because we’ve only had this crisis now for less than a week,” Osak said. “The downside is, a lot of stores are closing” and that means “some retail access being taken out of the market,” online options notwithstanding.

Hunny Pot Cannabis Co., which operates retail stores in Toronto and Burlington, has been experiencing sales trends not seen since the first weeks of opening.

“We’re seeing significant increases,” said Hunny Pot’s Cameron Brown. “We did see increases week-over-week for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

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