What Cannabis Retailers Can Learn From Last Green Wednesday

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Green Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving in the U.S., first emerged as one of the biggest sales days of the year in the legal cannabis industry in 2017. Since, it has become a landmark day for cannabis retailers everywhere, much like Black Friday for the retail industry writ large.


Now that Green Wednesday has become a fixture for the cannabis industry, retailers can analyze sales data from years past to spot trends and better prepare as this year’s Green Wednesday approaches. Below, we’ll help you parse the data from last year and spot what’s around the corner, so you can guide your cannabis retail business to success. 


Cannabis sales on Green Wednesday last year

Sales data from last year’s Green Wednesday suggests the holiday is only getting bigger, as sales increased by more than 16 percent year over year to a total of $116.4 million, according to a report from business intelligence firm Akerna. The only day in which cannabis retailers grossed more was the renowned cannabis holiday 4/20. 


A separate report from cannabis industry analyst firm Headset found that, in the well-established markets of California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, Green Wednesday drove 48 percent more sales than the three previous Wednesdays in November. 

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend as a whole — which includes Green Wednesday, Thanksgiving Day, and Black Friday — drove $289 million in cannabis sales total, up 12.7 percent year over year, according to Akerna data. However, according to Headset, Thanksgiving Day is not a busy day for cannabis retailers, as sales last year declined by 65 percent over a typical Thursday.


Key takeaways from last year’s Green Wednesday

As a cannabis retailer, it isn’t enough to know that cannabis sales in general spike on Green Wednesday before subsiding on Thanksgiving. You also need to know what types of products consumers tend to look for when shopping on Green Wednesday. Moreover, it’s important to understand how your competitors are bundling and pricing products so you can maintain a competitive advantage that provides value to your customers.


Here are some important key takeaways from last year’s holiday season:


  • In the three-day holiday period spanning Green Wednesday through Black Friday, the product types that saw the biggest boost in sales were topicals, beverages, and edibles, growing at 15.3 percent, 13.2 percent, and 6.1 percent, respectively.
  • Takeaway: Promoting these products and creating bundles that feature them may offer an opportunity to capitalize on increased sales volume in these categories. They won’t be your biggest sellers, but you may need more inventory on hand than usual.
  • Inhaled cannabis products experienced a decrease in sales in the three-day period from Green Wednesday through Black Friday, according to Headset data. Concentrate sales were down 11.4 percent, flower declined by 10.8 percent, and prerolls fell by 6.4 percent. Still, these categories are major sellers, according to Akerna. Cannabis flower represented 48.7 percent of all sales, while cartridges and vape pens represented 32.3 percent of sales.
  • Takeaway: Consumers will expect these products to be available and you’ll still need plenty of inventory, especially on Green Wednesday. However, don’t expect them to move as quickly as they usually would during Thanksgiving weekend.
  • In states where discounts are legally permitted, the average discount was 19.8 percent, according to Headset. The average discount was even higher on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, at 22.2 percent and 23.7 percent respectively, as retailers tried to move inventory leftover from Green Wednesday.
  • Takeaway: In markets where discounts are legally allowed, you may have to compete with some pretty steep price reductions. And, if you’re left with surplus inventory after the Green Wednesday rush, you may need to slash prices even further to sell those products.
  • While Green Wednesday saw a spike in cannabis sales, the three-day holiday is actually slower by an average of 6.5 percent compared to other three-day periods throughout the year. That means taking advantage of the Green Wednesday rush is critically important to rounding out a successful November.
  • Takeaway: Understand and plan for the fact that while Green Wednesday brings with it a green rush, overall sales are likely to slow at the end of November. Bundle and price your products to move on Green Wednesday and consider whether closing your doors on Thanksgiving Day could cut costs in the face of slowing sales.

Supporting sales growth beyond Green Wednesday

After Green Wednesday, the largest cannabis sales days of the year are over — but that doesn’t mean cannabis retailers can check out until the new year. In fact, every cannabis product category sees an increase over typical sales in the week before Christmas, according to Headset. Unsurprisingly, flower and vape pens account for the largest volume of sales, but the largest sales increases are seen, once again, in topicals, cannabis beverages, and edibles. 


Don’t fall into the trap of going through the motions in December. As sales begin to increase in the second week of the month and go into full swing in the week before Christmas, you can use this momentum in a final push to bolster the bottom line at the end of the year.


Remember that every market is unique in the cannabis industry, so examine these trends in the context of your state and locale. How these trends develop in New York, for example, may be very different from what’s happening in California. While these broad national trends are likely to impact your cannabis business wherever it is you operate, the specifics of how they influence your market will depend on the individual factors shaping the cannabis industry in your area.


Prepare for Green Wednesday and beyond with CWCBExpo

Cannabis retail is an exciting, dynamic, and challenging space, but with the right preparation you can set your business up for success. Although the landscape is always changing in the cannabis industry, there is a great deal of insight that can be gleaned from past sales data. Meanwhile, keeping an eye on trends shaping the future can help you stay ahead of the curve and at an advantage over your competition. 


At CWCBExpo, we’ll help you stay plugged in to what’s happening in the cannabis industry and how it will impact your business. To learn more and connect with cannabis industry leaders from all over the country, claim your spot at our next cannabis trade show, taking place June 5 – 6 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. We hope to see you there!

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