Sales of most legal cannabis products continues to accelerate at rates unheard of in established industries. As a result, interrogating the sales data tends to be an exercise in enthusiasm amplification — so many strong product categories, so many booming brands, so much spectacular news for the young industry. Happy to be here? You bet.
But the news does not always supercharge the mood. Negative growth is a real thing in cannabis. And evaluating areas with weak sales stands as a helpful exercise for everybody in the industry.
One thing to remember: Negative growth is a relatively new story in this fresh industry. The biggest hit to growth in Colorado, the state with the longest track-record of recreational sales, is in flower, but sales growth, in terms of dollars, didn’t turn negative until July of last year.
Now, negative sales growth for flower is a Colorado fixture. In January and February of this year, sales were down 4.6 percent compared to the same period last year according to data from cannabis market research firm BDS Analytics. Volume, however, continues to climb — up 11 percent during the period. The growth slowdown in flower has more to do with falling prices than diminishing consumer demand.
Outside of flower, most negative growth in Colorado takes place within the broad edibles category. Sales of all edibles products are up comfortably — by 10 percent compared to the same period last year. But within edibles, some kinds of products are growing fast, while others are withering.
The biggest drop in edibles is taffy products. Sales during January and February reached $1.6 mllion, which is 23 percent lower than during the same period last year. And it’s not weaker prices that are affecting the slowdown in dollars — volume, too, was down by 15.5 percent.
We see a similar drop in retail sales of baked goods, like cookies and brownies. Sales fell 20.5 percent to $1.98 million, and volume inched back by 15.5 percent.
Hard candy? Down by 12 percent in terms of dollars, and by 8 percent in volume. Chocolate bars? Dollar sales are down by 6 percent, and volume is down even more, by 11 percent. With THC-infused drinks, too, both dollars were down (by 7.5 percent) and volume (by 8.5 percent).
None of this means these categories are weak. Instead, the banquet of consumer choices continues to grow and as they try new products, others get overlooked. The hope by brands, of course, is that they aren’t forgotten.
With so many slices of the edibles pie declining, what accounts for the 10 percent boost in overall edibles sales?
Gummies. Droppers (tinctures that come in dropper bottles, rather than sprays). And chocolate pieces.
Gummies are the most popular form of edible, and sales during the period were up 35 percent, to $13 million. Sales of droppers rose 11.3 percent, to $2.5 million.
But the big growth story in edibles is chocolate pieces, like truffles and chocolate-covered fruits and nuts. That category positively vaulted over last year’s numbers — up by 142 percent, on sales of $1.5 million.