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Economy Cannabis sales jump 25 per cent in first full month of legalization as retail sales slip 0.9 per cent

Part of cannabis and small business and retail

Cannabis store sales totalled $54 million in November, the first full month of legal recreational pot sales, according to Statistics Canada.

The cannabis sales for the month a little more than 25 per cent from $43.1 million recorded in October, which included roughly two weeks of legal pot sales after Canada legalized cannabis for adult use on Oct. 17.

“Data for this Canadian industry are presented in unadjusted form as there is no seasonal pattern established by official statistics yet,” Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

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Pot stores saw the biggest percentage increase in sales amongst the retail sectors tracked by the agency with every other group showing a single digit increase or decrease.

Overall retail sales across Canada slipped 0.9 per cent to $50.4 billion in November. Economists had expected a drop of 0.6 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

The latest data comes as cannabis retailers continue to grapple with a supply crunch more than three months after recreational pot was legalized.

Government-run entities tasked with sales and distribution of adult-use pot have said they have received less product than expected and warned that the shortages could linger for months.

The latest statistics shed light on the market potential of the burgeoning industry, but cannabis sales performance varied widely among provinces.

Sales in Ontario, where cannabis can currently only be legally purchased through a government website, actually fell to $10.1 million in November from $11.7 million in October. In British Columbia, pot sales also slipped to $1 million in November from $2.3 million in October.

Recreational pot retail sales saw an uptick in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

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Alberta, which had issued 17 cannabis retail licences on Oct. 17, saw the largest overall amount of sales in November at $12.1 million, up from $7.3 million in October.

Statistics Canada did not provide numbers for Northwest Territories, Nunavut or Manitoba, noting that the data was “suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.”

Meanwhile, overall retail sales across Canada fell more than expected as lower prices at the pumps pushed down gasoline sales while motor vehicle and parts dealers sales also dropped.

Excluding gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales increased 0.2 per cent, Statistics Canada said.

Overall, sales were down in six of 11 subsectors, representing 75 per cent of retail trade.

Retail sales in volume terms fell 0.4 per cent, the agency said.

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