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Toilet Paper, Sanitizer, Cannabis: COVID-19 Purchasing Trends

Mar 16, 2020 6:12:27 PM / by Sophia Chong

coronavirus purchasing trends

Cannabis brands or retailers who aren't yet working with Treez and are interested in gaining access to our free COVID-19 market-insights dashboard (updated daily!), can reach out to us through this form.

In recent weeks, the emergence of the novel coronavirus has seemingly touched all aspects of everyday life for people across the globe. Health officials at every level are taking unprecedented steps to slow the spread of the virus and protect the public from COVID-19. 

In response to these events, people have been stocking up on essentials such as disinfectants, non-perishable food, and toilet paper. Why? There are two main reasons. First, in preparation for responsible social distancing, experts are encouraging everyone to reduce time spent around crowds, including while shopping for these necessary goods. Second, in anticipation of disruptions to the supply chain for these products. Not only are these items subject to shortages from a sharp increase in demand, but they’re also seeing production and delivery interruptions because of the virus. 

We asked ourselves, along with many others in our industry, “How are cannabis consumers responding to the coronavirus? Are dispensaries experiencing crisis buying trends? Is cannabis seen as an essential need for survival?”

Since Treez powers a third of California’s retail cannabis sales, we have the unique ability to distill available data into clear insights showing how Californians are buying cannabis in the shadow of the coronavirus. We isolated our dataset to the busiest Friday and Saturday combo of each month over the last year so we can compare typical weekends with the state of sales in this atypical time. Let’s take a look at the results. 


Average Order Value (AOV)

This past weekend, starting on Friday 3/13, saw the highest average order value of any weekend in the past 12 months — higher than Black Friday, Christmas, and even our industry-specific holiday of 4/20.  The 12.5% increase in AOV from the prior month, before California declared a state of emergency, is also significant and indicates shoppers may be stocking up in response to recent events by making larger purchases.

coronavirus blog AOV-1

Average Order Value by Age

While we’ve seen increases in AOV across the board, there’s a notable 12% increase in purchases from those in the age group most at risk of serious complications from coronavirus. The older population appears to be heeding the advice of health officials to take restrictive social distancing measures by stocking up on enough cannabis to hunker down and outlast periods of staying indoors. This has resulted in the largest dollar amount increase in a single month across any age group for the past 12 months.  

coronavirus blog AOV seniors-1


Average Gross Sales 

We also dug into the average gross sales from Treez’s top 10 retailers in California, who each bring in over $20M annually. The figures below show an average of the individual weekend days from the top weekend of each month. The average gross sales made at these large shops have already seen a 21% jump from last month. To put this in the perspective of a wider timeframe, this month’s spike is 7.4% higher than this past year’s 4/20 weekend sales, which was a weekend that crushed sales records left and right. 

coronavirus blog AGS


Average Items per Purchase

This past weekend’s uptick in purchases also saw a rise in the average number of items per purchase. In the graph below, we highlighted April and November, the only months in the past year with higher figures than the current month. These months tend to see a natural increase in the number of products customers are purchasing as they prepare for 4/20 and the holiday season, and take advantage of increased promotions around these times. 

So how is it that the current month’s figure approaches these highs even without the same seasonal considerations? Three words: bulk weight purchases. While people may not be purchasing as many products per transaction, they are purchasing more of their tried-and-true favorites by opting for larger amounts of fewer strains.

coronavirus blog AIPP


From our preliminary look into purchasing trends during the coronavirus crisis, it appears that consumers are still, in fact, purchasing cannabis products and are even purchasing more than they were previously. Perhaps in preparation for self-isolation or supply shortages, or perhaps in an effort to ensure a reliable mood-booster is within arms reach during these uncertain times.

As more and more areas across the country move towards the closures of ‘non-essential’ businesses (i.e. anything that isn’t a hospital, pharmacy, grocery store, etc.), consumers may face periods where they’re unable to access a dispensary, even for medicinal purchases. Many regions have continued allowing non-contact home deliveries, and if you’re a retailer planning on offering this to your customers, don’t forget to take advantage of all the tools in your toolkit, like leveraging the Treez Fulfillment dashboard to help you maximize your efficiency and keep track of all your inbound orders. 

It is our hope that despite the unique circumstances we’re in, patients will continue to be granted safe access to their medicine, and the many individuals and businesses who make up our industry are able to stay strong as we face these challenges together. Be well. 


*In case you missed it above, cannabis brands or retailers who aren't yet working with Treez and want to gain access to our free COVID-19 market-insights dashboard (updated daily!), can reach out to our team through this form. We look forward to hearing from you.


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Topics: California, Cannabis Dispensary Software, cannabis software, data, insight, POS software, retail, software

Sophia Chong

Written by Sophia Chong