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Normalization of Cannabis Shows Shift in Holiday Sales Patterns

New Frontier Data examined cannabis sales data from November 2021, 2022 and 2123. The results show a shift of sales patterns. While Green Wednesday was the third-highest grossing sales in 2021, sales collected in 2022 on Friday, Nov. 4; Friday, Nov. 11; and Sunday, Nov. 18 were nearly equivalent as Nov. 23 (this year’s Green Wednesday) and Nov. 25 (Black Friday). New Frontier Data reached out to many top experts in order to understand the reasons behind this shift.

Noah Tomares (New Frontier Data Senior Research Associate), said that Michigan’s cannabis industry is rapidly evolving compared with mature markets such California. “Perhaps the most notable difference in November was how Michigan’s product breakdown stayed similar throughout the month, where in 2021 they favored more edibles and cartridges right before the holiday,” said Tomares. “It’s striking how much more stable Michigan is in 2022 versus what it was ’21, and how much more it looks like California.”

Tomares also added that we’re beginning to see a shift in purchasing behavior as well. “In California, a relatively mature market, purchases remained largely consistent in terms of product breakdowns year-over-year. Michigan consumers last year gravitated towards more subtle or ‘family-friendly’ products such as cartridges and edibles: In 2021, those products spiked from 37% of transactions during the first week of November to 43% for the week of Thanksgiving. This year, the month looked much more normalized, with cartridges and edibles accounting for approximately 40%+ of sales during each week in November.”

New Frontier Data’s Chief Knowledge Officer, Dr. Amanda Reiman, suggests that cannabis normalization is likely the reason that sales aren’t highest on previously predictable days. “I think it’s normalization and increased access nationwide that is driving the change in holiday purchasing,” said Reiman. “Not only are people just more comfortable using their regular products in more places and with more people, but cannabis is available in more states, so there is not as much need to stock up before you go if you can get it wherever you’re headed. Many folks would likely rather wait and buy cannabis at their destination than to take it on a plane.”

It’s important to remember that Thanksgiving is a time when consumers spend quality time with their family and friends. New Frontier Data shared that 44% of consumers source their cannabis from friends or family, and 29% say that it’s their primary source of access. In some medical-only states, as well as those that still don’t have any cannabis legislation, family is the primary source of cannabis.

Data from the past has revealed that 68% people smoke with other people, 21% with family, 19% with extended relatives, 11% with parents and 6% with children. Furthermore, 59% said that they are supportive of marijuana use. 85% also stated that their family knew about it.

Common Thanksgiving consumption includes 40% of those who consume cannabis while spending time with their families or partners. 38% also report that they have paired cannabis with food, while 33% say they cook with it.

Tomares thinks that cannabis will be more accepted in the future. “We expect that as markets continue to mature and new markets come online, consumer preferences will become increasingly normalized, and acquisition of cannabis will become increasingly integrated into consumers’ daily routines,” Tomares said. “Already, 48% of consumers report just visiting a dispensary after they run out, as opposed to planning a dedicated trip. New markets are opening that have lower entry barriers, so consumers might feel less pressured to get cannabis prior to travel and social events. As this plays out, we may see some unofficial holidays playing a less significant role in consumers’ purchase decisions.”