As the temperature chilled and lights went up in yards and streets across the U.S. and Canada, cannabis sales held still or improved in many areas during the first three weeks of the final month. However, there were a few pieces of coal found along the way. During the week of Christmas, cannabis sales in the U.S. dipped by 4.9 percent compared to the previous three weeks.
Further north, cannabis sales in Canada dropped by 63 percent from December 21 through December 27. Unfortunately, the downward trend in sales recorded during the week of Christmas extended into the week of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. From December 28 through January 3, U.S. cannabis sales decreased by 12 percent and Canadian cannabis sales fell 65.7 percent compared to the previous three weeks.
There are several reasons why cannabis sales dropped in the United States and Canada during the final days of the year. Most notably, many retail locations reduce their hours of operation or close entirely during many of those days. Also, shoppers typically use the first few weeks of December spending an inordinate amount of money on gifts, social gatherings, and travel. As a result, many consumers may look to cut back on shopping while spending the last few days of the year with family, friends, and loved ones.
In fact, a report from the Associated Press indicated that consumer “spending had trailed off sharply” across the board entering 2022. As the world enters into 2023, CNBC warns that shoppers will be “more frugal” following a stretch of holiday shopping.
Consumer spending may have dropped off toward the end of the year, but there are a few promising pieces of information to carry into the new year. Most notably, topicals are on the rise in the U.S. and Canada. During the week of Christmas, topical sales in both countries increased by more than 18 percent. While topical sales decreased in Canada during the final week of the year, the category continued to rise in the United States, increasing sales by 8.5 percent from December 28 through January 3. Similarly, cannabis beverage sales increased by at least 15 percent in both the United States and Canada during the final two weeks of the year. Not to be forgotten, the tincture, sublingual and edible categories saw positive growth in Canada and the U.S. during the weeks of December 21-27 and December 28-January 3.
The final days of December are often unlike many others throughout the year. However, there are a few takeaways from this set of data that can be useful moving forward. To begin with, New Year’s Eve and Christmas are days when many adults are encouraged to drink responsibly. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that cannabis-infused beverages were in high demand during this period. Similarly, the December holidays are often great times to enjoy special dishes, baked goods, and treats that can all be infused with cannabis. Keeping that in mind, it is also not surprising to learn that edible sales increased as well. From a different perspective, millions of consumers spend much of December buying gifts for others.
After analyzing the sales trends of the 12th and final month, it appears that topicals were a popular gift in Canada and the U.S. Brands looking to make a splash next December can utilize this information to bring in the year on a high note.
Cy Scott is cofounder and chief executive officer at Headset Inc., which turns retail data into real-time market insights. Previously, he co-founded cannabis information network Leafly, obtained Kelly Blue Book’s first patent, and assisted TEN: The Enthusiast Network in transitioning publications including MotorTrend and Automobile from print to digital.