Cannabis sales surge as Ontario declares state of emergency

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As public health officials work to contain the coronavirus, Canadians are doubling down on cannabis.

Before the premier announced the province was in a state of emergency on Tuesday, Ontario Cannabis Store experienced a surge in sales. Sales were up 80 per cent on Saturday and 100 per cent on Sunday, Daffyd Roderick, director of communications for the OCS, told the The GrowthOp in an email. More than 7,000 orders were placed over the weekend.

“At present, we have sufficient inventory to meet demand and we are in frequent communication with our licensed producer partners to understand their operational plans and capabilities and plan accordingly,” Roderick said. There has also been an increase in demand for same-day and next day delivery orders, but those services continue to operate on their normal schedule, according to Roderick. OCS sales may have also received a boost from significant price reductions across a variety of product categories.

Private stores across the country also reported an increase.

“Our stores had a very, very busy weekend,” said Darren Bondar, president and CEO of Spiritleaf, which operates 46 stores across the country.

Sales were up 20 per cent compared to the previous weekend, Bondar told The GrowthOp, while noting that the chain is taking increased measures to protect the safety of customers and employees. Locations are being cleaned and disinfected multiple times a day and the chain is following government guidelines. There are no plans to close retail locations at this time.

Nova Scotia has also seen an uptick in sales. A Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation spokesperson told The GrowthOp that sales were up 45 per cent last week compared to the same week last year. New Brunswick also experienced a slight increase in sales this past weekend, said a spokesperson for New Brunswick Liquor Corporation.

The BC Liquor Distribution Branch said they will not be releasing sales data during the COVID-19 pandemic, “as we focus on the safety of our employees and members of the general public that we serve within the communities that we operate in.”

While sales are booming, Spiritleaf says health and safety are of the utmost importance at this time. The company is advising customers who feel ill to stay at home. They are also increasing the number of products available for home delivery or in-store pick-up. The hours of some stores may be impacted as employees care for others or are under self-quarantine. Customers are advised to double-check each store location’s hours before visiting.

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