The normalization of cannabis shows a shift in holiday sales patterns

New Frontier Data compared cannabis sales data for the month of November 2021 and 2022, showing a shift in sales patterns. While Green Wednesday was the third-highest sales of 2021, 2022 sales were collected on Friday, November 4; Friday, November 11; and Sunday, November 18 almost corresponded to November 23 (this year’s Green Wednesday) and November 25 (Black Friday). New Frontier Data consulted many of its leading experts to analyze the reasons for this change.

According to Noah Tomares, senior research analyst at New Frontier Data, Michigan’s cannabis industry is developing rapidly compared to mature markets like California. “Perhaps the most notable difference in November was that Michigan’s product breakdown remained similar throughout the month where they favored more edibles and cartridges just before the holidays in 2021,” Tomares said. “It’s striking how much more stable Michigan is in 2022 compared to 21 and how much more it looks like California.”

Tomares added that we are also starting to see a change in buying behavior. “In California, a relatively mature market, purchases remained broadly flat year-over-year in terms of product breakdown. Michigan consumers gravitated towards more subtle or “family-friendly” products like cartridges and edibles over the past year: In 2021, these products jumped from 37% of transactions in the first week of November to 43% in Thanksgiving week. This year the month has looked a lot more normal, with cartridges and edibles accounting for about 40%+ of sales each week in November.”

New Frontier Data’s Chief Knowledge Officers, Dr. Amanda Reiman, suggests that cannabis normalization is likely why sales aren’t at their peak on previously predictable days. “I think it’s normalization and increased access nationwide that’s driving the change in vacation shopping,” Reiman said. “Not only do people feel more comfortable using their regular products in more places and with more people, but cannabis is also available in more states so you don’t have to stock up so much before you go if you can get it anywhere can directed. A lot of people would probably rather wait and buy cannabis at their destination than take it on a plane.”

Consumers spending time with family and friends on or around the Thanksgiving holiday should also be considered. New Frontier Data reported that 44% of consumers get their cannabis from friends or family and 29% say it is their primary source of access. In some purely medical states, as well as those that do not yet have cannabis legislation, family is the primary source of cannabis.

Previous data has shown that 68% of people use with others, 21% with siblings, 19% with extended family members, 11% with parents, and 6% with their children. Additionally, 85% of consumers say their family is aware of their cannabis use, and 59% say their family supports its use.

Thanksgiving-related use is also a common practice, with 40% spending time with family or spouse during use, 38% reporting combining cannabis and food, and 33% cooking with cannabis.

Overall, Tomares assumes that these activities will continue to normalize over the next few years. “We anticipate that consumer preferences will increasingly normalize and the purchase of cannabis will become increasingly integrated into consumers’ daily routines as markets continue to mature and new markets come online,” Tomares said. “Already, 48% of consumers say they only visit a pharmacy after they’ve run out, rather than planning their own trip. As new markets with lower entry barriers open, consumers may feel less pressure to purchase cannabis before travel or social events. As this plays out, we may see some unofficial holidays play a less significant role in consumer purchasing decisions.”

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