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Pandemic to Curb Pot Industry’s Biggest Holiday: Cannabis Weekly
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Like so many other things, the coronavirus pandemic is set to dampen 4/20 celebrations, meaning cannabis retailers can’t depend on the sales spike they’ve come to expect on the industry’s biggest holiday.
For obscure reasons, April 20 is the most important day of the year in stoner culture, typically marked by festivals, parties and smoke-ins. (The most common origin story is about a group of 1970s high-school students who’d meet at 4:20 p.m. to search for a legendary abandoned marijuana crop.)
Whatever its source, April 20 is usually the biggest sales day of the year for dispensaries. On average, 4/20 sales are about double their normal daily levels, according to Headset Inc., which has been tracking the holiday for five years.
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In 2019, when it fell on a Saturday, sales were about three times higher than normal, according to Roy Bingham, chief executive officer of pot data firm BDS Analytics.
“It’s a public celebration typically, especially in Colorado and California, with parties, concerts, a day for hanging out in the park and meeting people,” Bingham said in a phone interview. “I’m sure there will be lots of cocktail hours on Zoom that include cannabis, but it’s going to be a very different experience for most people.”
Although this year is extra special -- 4/20 in 2020 -- Headset said it expects sales volumes to be “substantially lower” than prior years. They’ll also likely be spread throughout the week as consumers seek to avoid crowds or leave enough time for delivery.
Bingham agreed, saying he expects three or four days of good sales, but not at the “spectacular” levels seen last year. It’s also unlikely they’ll exceed the spike in sales on March 13, when consumers were rushing to stock up ahead of lockdowns.
Curaleaf Holdings Inc., the largest U.S. cannabis company by market value and footprint, will spread its 4/20 discounts over five days to reduce the risk of crowds, said Executive Chairman Boris Jordan.
“Historically around 4/20 there’s long lines, people love to fraternize and talk and celebrate,” Jordan said in a phone interview. “We’re running the sales over a five-day period instead of a one-day sale so we don’t have any lines and more importantly our employees are kept safe.”
Jordan expects sales to be about 25% to 30% higher than average levels.
“There’s no question it’s going to be a much more subdued celebration for the industry than it usually is,” he said.
Cannabis sales jumped in mid-March as people stocked up, then fell to below-normal levels once most states declared the industry an essential service. With dispensaries now offering curbside pickup and delivery in the states that allow it, Jordan said Curaleaf’s sales returned to normal or slightly above in the first half of April.
The government’s $1,200 $1,200 That Won’t Be Enough" target="_blank">stimulus checks also appeared to boost sales and may help for 4/20, Bingham said.
“It’s a nice irony that it’s federally illegal but federal support may enable the industry to have quite a good weekend,” he said.
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