April 18, 2019 4:04 pm
Updated: April 18, 2019 4:10 pm

Pot sales fell in most provinces in February; Quebec bucked trend

WATCH: Ten of 25 legal cannabis stores opened on April 1 across Ontario.

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Cannabis sales fell in February in most provinces, data released Thursday by Statistics Canada shows.

On a national basis, daily average sales rose slightly from $1.77 million in January to $1.78 million in February.

But that growth was driven almost entirely by Quebec, where daily average sales rose by almost $45,000 in February.

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Quebec has continued to open stores, including one in March on Montreal’s South Shore.

READ MORE: Quebec cannabis stores to open in Montreal, Brossard and other areas

Sales also increased in February in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and B.C. Manitoba has been pushing to expand retail sales, especially beyond Winnipeg and Brandon.

READ MORE: Rural spots look for approval as Manitoba aims to expand pot sales

WATCH: Huge lineup at Montreal store as pot makes legal debut

Average daily sales fell seven per cent in Ontario in February from January.

But Brock University business professor Michael Armstrong expects Ontario sales to change dramatically when April’s data comes in. (Ontario started to open retail stores on April 1, far after the rest of the country.)

“Ontario will see a jump in April numbers and May numbers, but not yet,” he said.

“With about half the stores open in April, that should add $10 million or so in sales, probably more, and that much again in May, when all the stores are open. We should see a dramatic jump for Ontario.”

WATCH: Cannabis N.B. CEO reports steady business as retail marijuana outlets open

Sales declined to some degree in all the Atlantic provinces, which started legalization with fully built-out retail systems but haven’t added to them since then.

Quebec is pricing cannabis lower than some other provinces, which may make the legal product more attractive to grey-market customers, Armstrong says.

“To the extent that price is an issue so far, Quebec is much closer to competing with the black market,” he said.

READ MORE: Canadians paying about $10 a gram for legal pot (or $6.37 for illegal pot): StatCan

Although adult Canadians in most provinces can easily buy cannabis online, they have a very strong preference for in-person purchases.

Armstrong says this is because people can buy anonymously using cash, want to see and smell the goods on offer and want in-person advice, hence there is a tight relationship between sales and the availability of retail.

READ MORE: Why do Canadians hate to buy marijuana online?

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