CCSI image 1 2022-02-04

*The provincial excise taxes vary. Cannabis Benchmarks estimates the population weighted average excise tax for Canada.

**CCSI is inclusive of the estimated Federal & Provincial cannabis excise taxes..

The CCSI was assessed at C$5.05 per gram this week, down -0.4% from last week’s C$5.07 per gram. This week’s price equates to US$1,802 per pound at the current exchange rate.

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This week we review Canada’s recreational cannabis store count. The number of stores continues to climb steadily across the country, making the legal cannabis system more accessible to consumers, and in some cases increasing competition among retailers in more saturated local markets. 

Our latest count shows the number of stores open for business reached 2,980 as of the end of January. That figure is up by 1,487 stores, or a jump of  99%, compared to January 2021. As can be seen in the chart below, we expect that trend to continue throughout this year but at a slightly slower rate. The slowdown is already apparent in the January data. During the 2021 calendar year, there were an average of 124 stores added each month, but only 86 were added in January 2021.

SOURCE: Cannabis Benchmarks

One province that sticks out is Alberta. We had been anticipating a slowdown there for some time, but Alberta’s store count continues to grow at a steady rate. The current count is 740 stores, which is 184 more than last January. We are modeling no growth for the rest of the year, with changes being made to the online sales model. Up until now, legal cannabis was available online only through an e-commerce platform run by the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis (AGLC) agency. The passing of Bill 80 in December will allow licensed retailers to set up their e-commerce platforms starting on March 8, 2022. This change will make the cannabis landscape even more competitive.

As we noted in a previous report, licensed private retailers will be able to keep costs significantly lower with a shift to online sales. From the established retailer’s perspective, the goal would be to move current customers to their online platform and fulfill their purchases from a centralized location. The new model will add pressure to already low sales margins. In the end, though, these changes should be a net benefit to both retailers and customers.