Legal cannabis sales in Ottawa flat as stores continue to multiply

Legal pot sales
(File photo by Michael D'Alimonte)

Cannabis consumers purchased more than $13 million worth of legal pot in Ottawa from authorized brick-and-mortar retailers in the first quarter of the year, according to new figures from the province.

The snapshot of the local cannabis market provided by the Ontario Cannabis Store Thursday shows that while sales revenues have remained relatively constant over the past year, the number of retailers operating in Ottawa has multiplied from seven in the first quarter of 2020 to 28 in the same period this year. Consumers can also purchase cannabis online directly from the Ontario Cannabis Store.

With dozens of additional stores either preparing to open, or in the application process, some have questioned whether the market is approaching a saturation point. By some experts’ calculations, if all of the pending stores in Ottawa do launch as planned, there will be twice as many cannabis retail stores in Ottawa as there are LCBO and The Beer Store outlets combined.

Trina Fraser, a partner at Brazeau Seller Law, previously told OBJ that while the downtown market may be getting crowded, there are still underserved areas of the city.

“Right now, location selection becomes very critical,” she said in May.

The provincial agency said its online store and its retail partners combined to sell $840.1 million worth of cannabis across Ontario last year and estimates it captured 44 per cent of the market – meaning the majority of pot purchased in the province still comes from the black market.

The Ontario Cannabis Store says Ottawa ranks second out of 160 Ontario communities in total retail sales and sixth in per-capita sales.

By the numbers: Ottawa cannabis sales

  • Q1 2021: $13.1 million (1.7 million grams)
  • Q4 2020: $13.6 million (1.7 million)
  • Q3 2020: $14 million (1.7 million grams)
  • Q2 2020: $9.3 million (one million grams)
  • Q1 2020: $13.1 million (1.3 million grams)