4/20 All Smoke? Marijuana Sales Dip in April.

Is the retail action on 4/20 all talk?
Jacqueline Collins
Is the retail action on 4/20 all talk?
Despite the 4/20 holiday on April 20, Colorado dispensary sales dropped in April from March, according to new data from the state Department of Revenue.

While 4/20 is known for dispensary discounts reminiscent of those on Black Friday and lines of shoppers attracted by those deals, April's monthly tally of $135.9 million in marijuana sales represented a 5.5 percent drop from the $142.4 million collected in March. Does that mean that 4/20's reputation is all smoke?

Not according to Liz Connors, analytics director for dispensary sales tracking firm Headset, who provides an easy explanation for the drop-off. March has one more day than April on the calendar, she points out. More important, the way the 2019 calendar worked out, this March also had one more weekend than April. And it's weekends, not holidays, that really drive sales, she explains — which led to March 2019 clocking the highest monthly total since recreational dispensaries opened in January 2014.

"March had five Fridays and five Saturdays, and April only had four. Weekends are definitely that important," Connors notes. "Outside of 4/20, April is kind of that lull for sales in Colorado, then in June and July, we see a big bump into the summer."

Customers also tend to stock up on 4/20, which can slow sales for the rest of the month, she points out.

click to enlarge DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
Department of Revenue
Adjusted for seasonality, April was actually a healthy month for Colorado dispensaries. The month's $135.9 million in sales was an 8.8 percent increase over sales in April 2018. And sales on April 20, 2019, were about 11 percent higher than on April 20, 2018, according to Headset's data. (April 20 sales are generally about 15 percent higher than those on any other day.)

Despite the March-to-April blip, 2019 is still on track to be the biggest year for dispensary sales since recreational stores opened, according to the DOR.

All the contextual data shows that Colorado's industry has reached a maturation point. "The growth rates still look pretty good," Connors says of the state's stats. "They're slower than they used to be, for sure, but it's a much more mature market than California. We see Colorado consistently up over last year, much like all of our markets; we haven't see any markets shrink yet."