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Quebec is closing its cannabis stores three days a week as demand for products outstrips supply.
Only nine days after recreational marijuana became legal in Canada, Quebec’s government-run cannabis corporation is admitting it faces a supply problem. The Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) announced on Friday it would close its 12 outlets from Monday to Wednesday beginning next week, operating from Thursday to Sunday only.
Online purchasing will still be available.
Quebec is just the latest province to grapple with supply shortages since Oct. 17. Other provinces with government-run stores have reported problems keeping their shelves stocked, although none have announced store closings, and their online stores remain open, albeit with fewer products available. Some private stores in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, however, have closed to customers over the past week.
Customers continue to line up to get into Quebec’s cannabis stores, only to emerge complaining of depleted stocks. Outside the St. Catherine Street store in downtown Montreal on Friday, several customers said shelves were bare and offerings limited.
The cannabis corporation warned on Wednesday that the “effervescence” of demand in the first days of operation – lines outside outlets stretched for hours – put pressure on the province’s sales network.
The corporation admitted it has “serious supply issues.”
“The limited offer by suppliers and limits in the production cycle are causing, as predicted, a shortage of products offered in stores and online,” the SQDC said in a statement. It anticipated the problem would extend for the “first trimesters of operation."
“The SQDC is working with suppliers to minimize the impacts on our customers, but in the current state of things, maintaining the stores network in operation will be a challenge,” it said.
After one week, the SQDC had logged 138,150 transactions, most of them – 84,850 – in bricks-and-mortar stores. Three of the 12 cannabis outlets are in Montreal.
The corporation said it is reducing its days of operation to prevent customers from making “useless” trips to the pot store, although it warned that it still could not guarantee stocks wouldn’t run out during the reduced hours.
The SQDC gave no date for when its stores would resume their seven-day-a-week schedule, saying only that hours would remain curtailed until “the availability of products becomes stabilized.”
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