Canadians seem to be easing off marijuana a bit, at least as far as the latest sales figures reveal. On Friday, Statistics Canada released its national retail sales data for April, revealing that purchases from licensed marijuana stores fell slightly (by 1%) on a month-over-month basis to land at around 180 million Canadian dollars ($132 million).
That reversed the previous month's trend, in which sales rose by nearly 20%. This can largely be attributed to stockpiling behavior stemming from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak that necessitated "stay in place" measures.
Though April's sales figure represents a decline, marijuana as a category actually held up relatively well. Overall, Canadian retail sales suffered a significant decline, falling by almost 25% month over month to C$33.3 billion ($24.5 billion). Nearly every retail category saw drops, including several (such as food and beverage stores) that, like cannabis, rose sharply in March.
Much of this reversal can be attributed to business closures, which came into force only partially in March, then mostly lasted throughout April. Cannabis dispensaries were an exception, however, as in most Canadian geographies they were considered "essential" businesses and allowed to operate (albeit with restrictions).
Still, the very modest decline relative to overall retail sales will be particularly encouraging for investors in the top Canadian cannabis producers and sellers like Canopy Growth (NASDAQ:CGC) and Aurora Cannabis (NASDAQ:ACB).
On Friday, shares of both companies rose (Canopy Growth by 0.9%, Aurora by 2.8%) while the broader stock market slipped on the day.