The legal cannabis industry has seen significant growth over the past few years, but one day still stands out above the rest: 420 continues to reign as the biggest day of the year with estimated cannabis sales crossing $192 million across North America on April 20, 2023. The sales could have been higher had some cannabis software providers not crashed this year. April 20 has traditionally been a day when cannabis advocates organize gatherings to protest against the war on drugs and push for legalization. However, despite the legalization of cannabis in many parts of North America, 420 remains the ultimate holiday for cannabis enthusiasts, as Cova Software recorded 6 consecutive years of 100% uptime on 420, capturing a wealth of data on the biggest sales day of the year.
Cova-Powered Cannabis Stores Witness Record Traffic & Sales
On April 20, 2023, Cova’s cannabis retail data shows that the number of transactions on 420 across over 2000 dispensaries from coast to coast has consistently been increasing over the past few years, as over 500 cannabis stores powered by Cova celebrated their first-ever 420 this year. On April 20, 2021, there were over 180,000 transactions processed through Cova’s cannabis retail POS system, with an average processing time of just 1.4 seconds. On 420 in 2022, that number jumped to over 246,000 transactions, with an even faster average processing time of just 1.3 seconds. And now in 2023, the upward trend continues with over 273,000 transactions processed, an increase of 11% from the previous year’s 420.
Average 420 Cannabis Sales per Store in the US and Canada
The United States
Compared to 420 last year, total cannabis sales in the US were up by 40%, as some newly-legalized states celebrated their first-ever 420. As the cannabis industry grows and the number of dispensaries across the country increases, average sales may have fallen as compared to the previous 420. However, average sales per store compared to a regular day rose in every state, as even medical-only states like Mississippi which celebrated its first 420, witnessed an increase of 142% relative to the previous Thursday. While legacy states continue to celebrate 420 with pomp and splendor, as California witnessed the highest increase of 222% in cannabis sales compared to the previous Thursday, it was in New Mexico, due to its relaxed regulations for medical cannabis, where a customer bought over $2000 worth of cannabis, the highest amount ever recorded in one single transaction.
In Canada, the overall sales remained steady at 420 this year, indicating that 420 is not as significant for cannabis consumers in Canada. In fact, in the past couple of years, Canada Day has consistently beaten 420 as the biggest sales day of the year. This could be due to the cultural significance of the national holiday and the fact that it’s also the beginning of summer, giving Canadians another reason to celebrate. Weather plays a big role in the lives of Canadians, and 420 wasn’t exactly a day to be outdoors in most Canadian cities this year. However, average sales per store were still up by 7% across the Great White North, as 189 stores in Ontario celebrated their first-ever 420, with in-store traffic going up as well.
How Much Money Do Dispensaries Make on 420?
Dispensaries always record high profits on 4/20 every year, and 2023 has been no different for successful dispensaries that prepared well in advance for the biggest cannabis holiday. On 4/20/2023, cannabis retailers using Cova Software in Canada and the US recorded an average gross profit of CA$ 1400 and US$ 4300, respectively. Americans certainly consume more cannabis than their neighbors, and dispensaries in the US offer more discounts on 420, while Canada has more stringent regulations around promotions. Hence, with a higher-than-average basket size and more items per transaction at dispensaries in the US, American dispensary owners tend to make more money on 420 than their Canadian counterparts. Here’s a quick look at the 4/20, 2023 sales numbers:
Average 420 sales per store in the US: USD 11.5K
Average spend per transaction in the US: USD 62
Average 420 sales per store in Canada: CAD 5.2K
Average spend per transaction in Canada: CAD 42
Are Online Cannabis Sales Surging in North America?
One of the most significant changes over the past few years has been the shift toward cannabis eCommerce sales. 2021 was probably an anomaly due to the pandemic when 31% of all orders made on 420 in Canada were done online, with 6% in the US. However in 2022, 10.4% of cannabis orders were still made online in Canada, and 5.9% in the US. This indicates that more customers are turning to online ordering, whether for convenience or due to other concerns.
In 2023 so far, on average, 10% of all Canadian cannabis sales and 7% of all US sales were done online, suggesting that this trend is here to stay. However, on 420 this year, as one of the largest cannabis eCommerce platforms had a major outage, online orders were only at 4% and 5%, respectively, in the US and Canada.
420 vs Holidays: Is April 20 the Biggest Cannabis Sales Day?
The cannabis industry always sees a surge in sales during holidays, and it’s no surprise that 420 is the biggest cannabis holiday in the United States, with an increase of 95% in cannabis sales compared to a regular day. However, in Canada, 420 may no longer be the biggest sales day. Last year’s Canada Day sales were 71% higher than on a regular day and still 14% higher than the average sales of 420 this year. Thus, Canada Day continues to retain the crown.
Halloween and Christmas also see a significant increase in sales in Canada, with 34% and 54% higher sales than regular days, respectively. Superbowl and New Year’s Eve also remain popular holidays for cannabis sales in both Canada and the US, but in the US, Green Wednesday is way more significant than in Canada.
Overall, the figures indicate clear seasonality in cannabis sales during holidays and special occasions, with sales figures significantly higher than on regular days. While 420 remains the biggest sales day in the US, the rise in sales during other holidays and events means that 420 is no longer the biggest holiday in Canada. We’ll have to wait for this year’s Canada Day sales data to see if the trend continues.
420 Cannabis Sales By Market Across the US & Canada
The heatmap below highlights how much more cannabis people consumed in each state/province on 420 compared to the previous week. Evidently, legacy states like California, Oregon, and Washington still celebrated 420 with great pomp and splendor, while only medical marijuana states like Oklahoma and Mississippi ‘stoned’ their way further. Even though Oklahoma rejected the legalization of recreational cannabis earlier this year, it still saw an increase of 186% in sales on 420, ranking it just behind California. Recreational cannabis consumers in New Mexico and Missouri rejoiced as they celebrated their legal 420, while New York and New Jersey demonstrated that they will give tough competition to California for the highest position next year as more dispensaries open up in these states.
In Canada, sales were up across the country, but no particular province stands out, except Quebec, which saw a significant increase at some First Nations-operated cannabis stores. That is quite a small sample size for Quebec, and not an indicator for the whole province, as most consumers buy their cannabis from the crown corporation stores, SQDC.
Cova Continues to be the Cannabis Technology Leader
Despite the growth in the number of stores and increased sales on 420, one thing remains constant: Cova Software is the cannabis technology leader in the industry. For the past six years in a row, our cannabis POS system has reported 100% uptime on 420, ensuring that cannabis retailers can keep up with the high demand and process transactions quickly and efficiently.
With the increase in the number of transactions and the number of stores participating, it’s clear that the demand for cannabis on 420 is still strong. On the cannabis industry’s biggest holiday, you need a reliable technology partner like Cova that can help you deliver what your customers need, so you can focus on making your business a success—on 420, and every other day. Check out our complete 420 infographic to see how your cannabis store and tech stack up.
Faai Steuer is VP of marketing at Cova Software, the fastest growing cannabis retail POS in North America. An entrepreneur at heart, she has a passion for growing startups and building brands. With 20 years of marketing experience in CPG and retail tech, she lends her knowledge and best practices to help cannabis entrepreneurs in the US and Canada open their first store and grow their business through vital thought leader content. Faai oversees the strategies and executions of Cova public relations, content marketing, social media, events, and campaigns.
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