Frequently referred to as a $5 billion industry, today’s updated marijuana retail trade numbers released through StatCan show the legal cannabis industry still has a long way to go to hit that number.
Operating on a delay as figures are reported, the latest info from StatCan highlighted retail sales across each province from October through December of 2018.
According to the StatCan report, the cannabis industry overall saw $55 million in legal retail sales across the nation in December.
Alberta and Quebec led in retail sales, with $13.5 million and $11.9 million in retail sales for December, respectively.
While lower than many companies may have wanted, the numbers show a steady increase in retail sales each month for most provinces.
Ontario was the only province to actually see a decrease in sales month over month during the time frame, steadily decreasing from $11.7 million to $8.7 million.
Those numbers are from directly after the Ontario Cannabis Store’s rocky online launch, which saw frequent complaints of long wait times for delivery, low or no stock, and sub-par product.
While currently customers can only buy online, the first brick-and-mortar retail stores are due to open this coming April in Ontario with the initial batch of 25 retailers selected via a random lottery.
That impending retail rollout may see similar problems as the online launch, as none of the major licensed producers were selected in that first batch of 25.
The fingerprints of major LPs will still be seen in the opening, however. After receiving a $10 million investment from Aurora Cannabis (NYSE: ACB; TSX: ACB), marijuana company High Tide (CSE: HITI) will assist two of those 25 companies in their initial openings.
Between the dropping Ontario numbers and low overall sales, the StatCan report seems to indicate the lion’s share of cannabis revenue is still going towards black and grey market sellers rather than to the licensed retail and online outlets.
The industry is currently seeking to tackle that discrepancy by increasing output through constructing new grow spaces, as well as with increased visibility. Most notably on that front, Aurora is due to open a retail store in the West Edmonton Mall soon.
Additionally, law enforcement across the nation has recently shut down a range of illegal dispensaries as the federal and provincial governments seek to move to a fully licensed and legal industry.