NSLC reports jump in cannabis and alcohol sales in 3rd quarter

It's one year since NSLC Cannabis stores opened for business. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. (NSLC) is reporting an increase in sales of cannabis and alcoholic beverages in its third quarter.

NSLC‘s quarterly financial results show a 14.3 per cent increase in earnings to $74.9 million for the period of Sept. 28 to Dec. 27, 2020, compared with $65.5 million in the same period in 2019.

There was an 11.7 per cent increase in beverage alcohol sales, growing to $187.8 million.

The agency says COVID-19 restrictions for bars, pubs and restaurants have led to customers buying more liquor from stores.

Sales to private wine and specialty stores as well as to agency stores were up by around 29 per cent. But sales to bars and restaurants were down compared with the 2019 period, “especially in the Halifax area due to COVID-19 restrictions.”

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Cannabis has seen “very strong growth” in the third quarter, with sales increasing by 27.5 per cent.

NSLC says opening six new cannabis stores has resulted in a 23 per cent decrease in the average price per gram, now $7.58.

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“This growth in cannabis sales indicates we are making progress in fulfilling our mandate to impact the illicit market with a safe, secure supply of cannabis,” said NSLC CEO Greg Hughes, in the release.

In the third quarter, average basket amounts for both alcohol and cannabis increased as well, at $39.57 and $41.48, respectively.

Total sales in the third quarter this fiscal year amounted to just under $210 million, compared with $185.5 million in the prior fiscal year’s third quarter.

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Buying local

NSLC has seen significant growth in sales of Nova Scotian products at its stores. Ready-to-drink Nova Scotian products saw a 74.2 per cent increase in sales to $6.2 million.

Nova Scotia spirit sales grew by 32.3 per cent compared with the third quarter in the 2019-20 fiscal year. Local wine sales increased by 22.7 per cent and craft beer sales increased by 20.8 per cent.

Nova Scotian cannabis accounts for 20.1 per cent of all cannabis sales at NSLC locations. Overall in the third quarter, local cannabis saw an increase of 31.5 per cent in sales to $4.5 million.

“Sales continued to reflect changes in customers’ purchasing patterns due to the pandemic,” NSLC said in the Tuesday release.

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Last year, NSLC said the novel coronavirus provided it with an “unprecedented” first quarter of the 2020-21 fiscal year. Sales increased by 5.3 per cent to $184.2 million between April 1 and June 28, 2020.

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