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With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the cannabis industry has Green Wednesday on the mind. And no wonder. In some markets,  the day before Thanksgiving has historically seen higher sales than April 20. While price compression in cannabis and general economic malaise have brought about a sense of uncertainty in the industry, it’s practically a given that Green Wednesday will bring a significant boost to legal sales across the board. While all cannabis brands and retailers stand to gain from the frenzy of weed buying on Green Wednesday, optimizing pricing, product assortment, and promotions are still key to making the most of this holiday. Read on for our analysis of Green Wednesday 2022. 

What drives sales on Green Wednesday? 

So why do people buy big before Thanksgiving? While our data shows that cannabis consumers are more likely to consume alone than in group settings, the holidays (and Thanksgiving in particular) still present a variety of unique cannabis need states. For example, ~50 percent of consumers in adult-use states claim they always consume cannabis during celebrations or special events, so it’s no surprise that cannabis plays a starring role at Thanksgiving. After all, who doesn’t have fond memories of “going out for a walk” with their hippest family members before the bird gets carved up?

For many of us, holiday travel and family events are a big source of stress, which presents another key need state for cannabis. Relaxing and unwinding is one of the most common use occasions for cannabis, with ~75 percent of consumers in adult-use states claiming that they always use cannabis to relax or unwind.

Expect Green Wednesday to bring significant increases in daily dollar sales, even without significant holiday discounts

In California, Green Wednesday 2021 brought in the highest daily dollar sales total of any day in November, reaching a total ~55 percent higher than the average for non-holiday days in the same month. This trend is also present in new and emerging markets. When looking at holiday sales in the Missouri medical market in 2021, dollar sales on Green Wednesday were nearly twice as high as the daily average for dollar sales on other days in November 2021.

Cannabis markets have been dealing with significant price compression since the end of 2021, so the issue of pricing and holiday discounts has been on our minds as we head into Green Wednesday. Looking back at 2021, the most mature markets did not see significant discounting during the week of Thanksgiving, with the California market seeing only ~1 percent lower average retail prices compared to other weeks in November. While discounts were more significant before 2021, and in emerging markets such as Missouri, decreases in average retail prices for the week of Thanksgiving remained in the low single-digits across the board in BDSA-tracked markets. 

Higher basket counts a key driver of Green Wednesday sales, with edibles seeing a big increase in basket penetration

BDSA Basket Analytics show that Green Wednesday had the highest number of daily baskets per store of any day in November 2021. In California, there was an average of ~280 baskets per store per day on Green Wednesday, ~40 percent more than the average for other days in November 2021. This increase in basket counts was seen in emerging markets as well, such as the Michigan adult-use cannabis market, where basket counts saw a ~55 percent increase on Green Wednesday compared to other days in November 2021.

When looking at basket penetration, some categories got a clear boost on Green Wednesday. For example, our data shows that edibles were present in ~28 percent of baskets on Green Wednesday, compared to just ~23 percent of baskets on other days in November. The pre-roll and concentrates categories also got boosts in basket penetration, though the increase was less significant. 

How should retailers and brands prepare for Green Wednesday?

  • Despite consumer anxiety about the general economic situation, expect Green Wednesday to bring some of the highest store traffic this season. Cannabis is a sticky good, and few consumers are likely to cut out their self-care during the holiday season. Prepare your staff for a Green Wednesday rush. 
  • Green Wednesday is a huge driver of sales across legal markets and channels, and while promotions will always be an important piece of retail strategy, it is likely more important to make sure that product assortment and base-level pricing are on point.
  • Prepare for edibles to get a boost. By using promotions across form factors, such as offering a discount on concentrates for those making edible purchases, retailers can boost basket sizes, making the most of increased store traffic.