April 20th (i.e. 4/20) is one of the most important days for cannabis connoisseurs. There are many legends about how it started. However it began, for many, smoking a joint at 4:20 pm on April 20th is like kissing your loved one on New Year’s Eve. For the industry, 4/20 sales are like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Boxing Day rolled into one. And now that, in many jurisdictions, cannabis has been legal for several 4/20s, we have pretty good insight into sales, popular categories, which discounts are popular and which ones aren’t. And how one customer responds to 4/20 sales won’t be the same as the other.
Looking at last year’s 4/20 sales, we see an increase in total sales and discounts in both Canada and the United States. Driven by an increase in transaction volume, total sales come from regular shoppers and cannabis novices. That is, people who don’t regularly shop for cannabis will make the exception on 4/20. For example, sales on 04/20/21 compared to the previous four weeks show a 52% increase in Canada and an 86% increase in the US. Among the demographics, enthusiasm is most prevalent among younger people. Generation Z customer sales increased by 168% on 4/20/21 compared to the previous four weeks. Compared to the 91% increase among Baby Boomers.
4/20 Sales & Discount Trends
Among the popular legal US markets (California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington), 4/20 sales doubled the average sales of the previous weeks. Discounts also increased but were offset by growth in total sales. The year 2020 is an exception. Once anticipated as the stoner’s jubilee (since you could be smoking at 4:20pm on 4/20/2020), the coronavirus and government lockdowns ended most celebrations. 4/20 sales in 2020 were lower but with a higher amount of discounts. 2020 was also the only year where 4/20 was not the largest day in sales. New Year’s Eve won that year.
Canada also surges in cannabis sales every 4/20. Even in 2020, 4/20 sales increased 66%. Interestingly, in 2021, the increase in sales only amounted to 59%. Discounts are more popular in the Canadian market than in the US. This is offset by the fact that average discounts throughout the year are harder to come by in Canada compared to the US.
What Kind of Products Do People Buy?
While 4/20 sales are high across the board, individual product categories experience different levels of growth. Beverages remain the crown jewel on 4/20. Beverages tend to be the most popular on holidays. Edibles and flower perform well, while tinctures, topicals and capsules do not experience the same surge in sales.
Interestingly, data shows that vape pens aren’t that popular on 4/20. This is surprising since vape pens, which are usually expensive, tend to experience discounts on 4/20.
Despite whatever products people buy, the total transaction volumes increase. Simply, people buy more cannabis products on 4/20 than they would on a normal cannabis shopping day. Of course, 4/20 sales are influenced by the significant discounts one can discover.
Trends in Category Market Share
Are 4/20 sales consistent year after year? A lot can happen in a year, and it’s crucial to stay on top of the latest trends. Comparing category market share from March 2021 to February 2022, we see some large changes. The market for flower has dropped by 5% while the pre-roll market has increased by 25%. Vape pens are more popular now than they were (up 14%), as well as edibles (up nearly 12%). Despite a market share of only 12.3%, pre-rolls are present in nearly a third of all cannabis transactions.
4/20 Sales By Customer Gender & Age
Who shops for 4/20 sales? Female customers have a strong response to the holiday in 2021 compared with males. Female cannabis sales increased by 140% over the previous four weeks. Generation Z female consumers are the clear winners with a 150% increase in transactions.
As mentioned, younger customers are more excited about 4/20 than older customers. Sales to Generation Z almost tripled on 4/20/21. Meanwhile, Gen X and Baby Boomer sales didn’t even double. COVID may have influenced this trend, as younger customers are more willing to socialize and expose themselves to the virus. However, this trend holds true in 2019 as well.
With more legal markets opening up and more players entering the game, expect this year’s 4/20 sales to increase by at least 100% in the US and 50% in Canada. Customers will be expecting discounts and a steady supply of beverages, edibles and pre-rolls.
A massive increase in transaction volume is what causes 4/20 sales. People who don’t normally shop for cannabis do so on 4/20. And most of these customers are young women.
Plagued by two years of COVID restrictions, this year’s 4/20 may present some surprises in the sales data. But so far, based on past trends, this is what we can expect for 4/20/2022.