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Cannabis sales in Nova Scotia see double-digit jump in NSLC fiscal year

Click to play video: 'NS Craft Brewers Association responds to AG report on local alcohol' NS Craft Brewers Association responds to AG report on local alcohol
We chat with Emily Tipton, President of the Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia, to get her reaction to the Auditor General’s report that criticizes the NSLC when it comes to promoting local. – Jun 25, 2020

Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. (NSLC) says earnings topped $268.7 million in its latest year-end financial report.

According to the report released Tuesday, NSLC saw total sales in the fiscal year ended March 31 of $820.5 million, an increase of 3.5 per cent from the prior fiscal year.

Alcohol sales were up by 1.7 per cent, or $718.7 million, though there was a 0.1 per cent decrease in the volume of beverages bought.

Cannabis saw a whopping 18.2 per cent increase in sales — the strongest growth of all categories — to $107.7 million overall.

“We undertook some large corporate initiatives this fiscal year while continuing to manage our operations through the pandemic,” said Greg Hughes, chief executive of NSLC.

Read more: NSLC sees growth in sales amid coronavirus pandemic

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NSLC opened 13 new cannabis stores in the past year which contributed to the 2022 rate.

“This improved access to a safe supply of cannabis along with a further reduction in prices as we work to impact sales in the illicit market,” Hughes said.

It also launched home delivery for alcohol products.

While sales in both cannabis and alcohol beverages increased, earnings were down 2.1 per cent. “Factors contributing to this included lower margins on both local products and cannabis, higher payroll costs, and increased freight costs,” the year-end report said.

NSLC said that licensee sales have started “returning to more normal levels,” along with bars and restaurants across the province.

As COVID-19 restrictions were eased this year and then fully lifted on March 21, sales to licensees were up 45.1 per cent, according to the report.

Read more: Nova Scotia craft beer industry a ‘real success story,’ but calls for change to help expand

Local products are more popular than ever at NSLC, now representing about 28 per cent of all products.

The agency said total sales of local alcoholic drinks are up 12 per cent, with N.S. beer seeing the strongest growth in that category, up by 18.7 per cent to $26.4 million.

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“This growth was driven by the popularity of 12 packs. We listed products from 34 local breweries, with more accepted for the current fiscal year,” the report said.

Local cannabis sales are up 40.1 per cent, and Nova Scotia’s cannabis represents 23.2 per cent of all cannabis sales.

The average price of a gram of local cannabis is now $6.94 — about 15.7 per cent less than last fiscal year. Each transaction for cannabis purchases was just under $40.

Customers of NSLC must be at least 19 years old, and in the past fiscal year, employees across the province have asked for ID more than 2.4 million times. They have refused service more than 21,360 times.

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