Smokin’ sales for cannabis

According to figures from the OCS, London ranks fourth out of 160 Ontario centres for retail cannabis sales

Photo: The J. London retail outlet at 691 Richmond Street

HOW MUCH POT do Londoners buy each quarter? A ton — quite literally.

New data from the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) provincial wholesaler has broken down cannabis sales by municipality, offering some insight into how the legal pot market is doing in London.

And the answer? Pretty darn well, with Londoners purchasing more than one million grams (totalling $8,906,000) of weed between January and March this year — enough to rank it fourth in the province for total sales.

Sales here have been relatively stable, too, with each of the two previous quarters also seeing sales around the one million grams mark.

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“London was one of the very first communities with a store that opened back in 2019, so it’s about where I would expect it to be,” says Daffyd Roderick, spokesperson for the OCS.

It’s perhaps no wonder that London is still up near the top of the list, since — if you hadn’t noticed — pot shops are proliferating across the city at a rapid clip. A year ago, there were only seven stores in the London region, according to the OCS. By the end of March of this year, that number had more than tripled to 22 stores (the rapid growth in cannabis retail outlets in London and elsewhere in the province has some experts suggesting there could be store closures and market right-sizing).

“There’s a lot of diversity of stores in the city, and I think people are able to find what they’re looking for and find a store that reflects what they want,” says Roderick.

“Province-wide, one of the things we definitely see is there is a strong preference for in-person shopping as opposed to online shopping” —Daffyd Roderick

Broadly speaking, the data shows a legal cannabis industry in Ontario that looks to have settled into a groove. It was not always that way, you might recall. At the outset of legalization Ontario had zero stores, and it only opened a couple dozen for most of the following year. Shipping was a source of complaints. Legal sales generally lagged. So, when Roderick looks at this kind of data, he’s heartened by it, and sees a system that is finally starting to function as intended.

“There’s a real growing community of consumer reviews. People are really taking each others’ advice on different products, and you actually see some of the things they pick reflected back in sales figures,” Roderick says.

“They’re now excited about products and sharing products they’re excited about as opposed to finding faults or flaws with the system,” he continues. “Early on, that was the predominant sentiment amongst those on social media — that we were maybe not doing such a good job. But I think we’re a little bit beyond that now.”

Edibles and other concentrated ‘cannabis 2.0’ products have continued to be a strong part of that growth. “We’re seeing continuing innovation in that space,” Roderick says. “You’re seeing things such as frozen products, we’re seeing lots in the soft-chew category. We’re going to continue to see that growth.”

Smokin’ sales for cannabis cannabis CannabisLondon’s Tweed retail cannabis outlet at 1052 Wellington Road

A lot of that growth does have a local connection, with local producer Indiva continuing to lead the pack in terms of market share. Between their Bhang chocolate and Wana Sour Gummies line — the two top selling edible products in Ontario, Roderick confirmed — they lead in every province from Ontario to British Columbia.

We can expect more stores to keep opening in London, then, as the province continues to grow its retail cannabis industry.

“Province-wide, one of the things we definitely see is there is a strong preference for in-person shopping as opposed to online shopping,” Roderick notes. “Ninety-two per cent of transactions were happening in stores. We expect that number to stay at about that level as we support the province’s mandate given to us to make sure that we can get legal regulated, that takes a socially responsible approach, into Ontario communities.” Smokin’ sales for cannabis cannabis Cannabis Kieran Delamont

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