Skip to main content

Cannabis Canada ‘needs more’ cannabis stores. These charts prove it

Since recreational cannabis was legalized last fall, many Canadians have struggled to buy product in-person, given the scant number of storefronts.

Colorado shows just how far Canada has to go. The state legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, and today it has more than 560 recreational outlets serving a population of some 5.7 million. Put another way, Colorado has roughly 10 stores for every 100,000 residents.

So, to match Colorado’s store density, how many stores would each province need to add? AltaCorp Capital tackled this question in a recent research note.

Story continues below advertisement

The short answer: significantly more.

Over all, Canada has just over 360 actual or planned retail locations – or 10 per cent of the 3,640 locations that AltaCorp says are needed to match Colorado’s density.

The shortage is less severe in some parts of the country, but glaring in others. For instance, in Ontario, the first licensed cannabis stores didn’t open until April, and only 25 store licenses have been issued to date. Though not every store has opened, the planned 25 amounts to 0.2 stores for every 100,000 residents. To close the gap with Colorado, Ontario would need to add nearly 1,400 stores, AltaCorp found.

“Canada needs more brick-and-mortar retail stores,” AltaCorp said. Cannabis sales growth has been “weak,” the firm added, and it attributes a big part of that to the “lack of physical retailers across the country.”

To be sure, Canadian consumers have not been entirely shut out: e-commerce channels have been open across the country since Day One. However, the early months of cannabis legalization have been marked by supply shortages – one factor that’s contributed to the sluggish retail rollout.

Moreover, AltaCorp said the in-person retail experience can be crucial.

“The legal recreational cannabis market in Canada is in its infancy, and as such, a significant number of consumers will likely be first-time users without much knowledge of the different products and their effects,” the firm said.

Story continues below advertisement

“A well-developed retail platform allows customers to interact with knowledgeable staff and provide them with a holistic customer experience, which is essential to attracting first-time and existing users to the legal recreational channels.”

On the issue of first-time buyers, Statistics Canada delivered news Thursday that many industry watchers will find encouraging. As part of its quarterly survey on consumption, Statscan found 646,000 people reported trying cannabis for the first time during the opening three months of 2019, or nearly double the amount of first-time users from a year earlier, when recreational cannabis was still illegal. Half of new users were aged 45 and older.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story had an outdated figure for the number of planned cannabis outlets in Quebec. This story has been updated to reflect the new figure.
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter