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4/20 Redux

The 4/20 holiday garners a lot of media attention and promotional hype, but does it live up to its reputation as a blockbuster sales event?

How consumers spent their money on 4/20 this year.

The actual day, April 20, does generate quite a bit of sales. On 4/20 this year, for example, stores in Colorado, Washington and Oregon sold $17.66 million in cannabis products, compared to $9.45 million on 4/19 and $9.79 million on 4/21 according to cannabis market research leader BDS Analytics.

But blockbuster holiday? It does not appear that 4/20 does much for sales outside of the day itself — in other words, it’s a single day rather than an extended celebration.

The holiday fell on a Thursday this year, and if 4/20 was truly a holiday bonanza, we would likely see strong sales through the weekend. But we saw sales fall dramatically on 4/21, and when we compare sales on Friday, 4/21, to sales on the previous Friday, 4/14, we find that sales were actually higher on 4/14, at $9.97 million.

It is reasonable to conclude that people did the bulk of their 4/20 shopping on the day itself, and then cut back on shopping following the holiday. The holiday does spark blizzards of promotions, with whacked prices (for example, on 4/20 this year among all states the average retail sales price for a gram of cannabis, in any form, was $6.71. A week earlier, on 4/13, the average sales prices was $8.20). But again, this illustrates a holiday that hinges on a single day, rather than a prolonged period of buying cannabis and enjoying it.

Meanwhile, data for the month reveals that, between all three states, sales were higher in March, at $242.25 million, than April’s $238.49.

State experiences with 4/20 vary

Sales in April this year in Colorado, at $125.27 million, were up only 6.7 percent compared to the previous April, which is markedly slower growth than is typical of a month. Consider March of this year, when sales of $131.73 million (higher than in April) were up by 48 percent. In May in Colorado, sales of $127.7 million (again, higher than the 4/20 month of April) were up by 29.5 percent.

Performing year-over-year comparisons with cannabis sales in Oregon is not illuminating, as the state only allowed sales of flower (and not categories like edibles and concentrates) through recreational stores last April. In Washington, sales during April of $74 million this year rose 51 percent compared to last April. But sales in the Evergreen State were even higher in March this year, at $76.2 million.

While the day of 4/20 itself does lead to significant sales, the holiday does not translate into something like the December holidays, when retail sales see enormous boosts and carry many stores through the year. The big sales month in past years has been September.

We will analyze Labor Day Weekend sales next week.

Doug Brown

Doug Brown

Douglas Brown spent more than two decades in newspaper and magazine newsrooms around the country, covering everything from the White House and Capitol Hill to technology policy to crime in New Mexico. Now, he runs Contact High Communications, a leading cannabis public relations firm based in Boulder, CO. He can be reached at

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