What’s in Store for Legal Cannabis this Holiday Season?

October 27, 2023

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When we take a close look at the biggest holidays for cannabis, there is much more to the picture than just cannabis-focused holidays like 420. In recent years, the Fall and Winter holiday seasons have grown to present some of the biggest opportunities for boosting sales. How much do Green Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) and other key days in the holiday season boost cannabis sales? How can brands and retailers best prepare for these seasonal sales drivers?

Making the Most of Halloween

Halloween may not be a cannabis-focused holiday, but BDSA Consumer Insights data show 51% of consumers report using cannabis at celebrations and special events. One of the spookiest days of the year, Halloween, presents itself as a prime use occasion for many consumers. Looking back at October 2022, Halloween brought +4% increase in daily sales versus average daily sales for other Mondays of the month (Halloween 2022 landed on a Monday).

While this is a modest sales boost, retailers can still employ promotions to drive sales on Halloween, particularly in the edibles category. BDSA Retail Sales Tracking data show that the edibles category boosted in its dollar sales share on Halloween (compared to the average category dollar sales share for the full month of October 2022) – even while the category was priced -5% lower on Halloween compared to non-holiday days that month.

In employing cross promotions and discounts in the edible category, retailers can use Halloween to boost store traffic and sales volume around the holiday. As Halloween will come on a Tuesday this year, one of the slowest days for cannabis sales per BDSA seasonality data, retailers would be well advised to begin Halloween promotions on high traffic days of the week, such as the Friday or Saturday before Halloween.

Halloween signals the kick-off of the holiday season, but the biggest days for cannabis sales in Q4 come around Thanksgiving. Green Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) and Black Friday have historically brought a big boost to sales. BDSA data show that these days produced the highest cannabis sales boost of any holiday, besides 4/20. Data from November 2022 show that daily dollar sales on Green Wednesday and Black Friday were each 66% higher than the average daily sales total from the full month of November 2022.

Now that we know that Green Wednesday and Black Friday will grow cannabis sales, how should retailers tailor their strategies for these holidays? Historical data show that the days around Thanksgiving increase traffic and sales, even with modest discounting at retail. Across all BDSA-tracked markets in 2022, products were priced on average -3% less during the week of Thanksgiving (compared to the average retail price for the full month of November 2022). However, BDSA-tracked markets still delivered a near 50% increase in the number of baskets. With price compression an ongoing concern, especially in Mature markets, retailers should do everything they can to prepare for increased foot traffic with increased staff and an ample supply of popular products, instead of leaning into promotions in the hope of drawing more consumers to retail on these holidays.

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s also presents an opportunity for cannabis businesses to end the year with strong sales. BDSA 2022 data show that sales were +16% higher on the week of New Year’s compared to non-holiday weeks in December 2022.

While New Year’s Eve brought a strong boost in dollar sales (up +22% vs. the average daily sales for the full month of December 2022) the biggest day for sales was December 30th, the Friday before New Year’s Eve. On that day, total dollar sales were +43% higher than the average daily sales for the month. This is not entirely surprising, as Fridays typically see the highest sales of any day of the week.

With New Year’s Eve landing on a Sunday this year, retailers should prepare for the biggest sales increase to come on the preceding Friday, December 29th.

As the cannabis industry grows and becomes more competitive, making the most of holiday sales boosts is a must for cannabis retailers. With a careful, data-driven approach to promotion, pricing, and assortment, the end of year holidays can be a huge boon to cannabis operators.

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Tags: BDSA-Insights, Cannabis, Data Based Decision Making, Market Trends

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