Deep Dive: Stores and Sales Per Capita in 2021

By: Danielle Leroux

Legal cannabis spending continues to grow, more provinces are offering delivery options, and the nation’s store count surpassed 3,000 in February, after the cannabis industry contributed a record $43.5 billion in 2021 to the national GDP since legalization.

According to Statistics Canada, in December 2021, Canadians purchased $382,372,000 in cannabis from 2,859 legal retailers in business at the time. Sales were up 28.5% from December 2020 and Canadians bought $3.92 billion worth of cannabis in 2021.

With a population of 38.4 million in Canada, that’s an average of 1 store per 13,444 people and an average of $9.95 in sales per capita, giving each retailer an average of $133,743.27 in sales per month. Less than six months ago, Canada had 2,501 legal retailers in August 2021, with an average of $9.33 in sales per capita, giving each retailer around $142,720.11 in sales per month.

With the exception of Alberta, average sales per store have gone down in every province since August, while sales per capita have increased in every province but Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Of course, not every province has the same rules, rents, or markets. Let’s see how they compare and what’s changed over the last six months.

Sales and Stores Per Capita by Province

Sales/Store Stores Population Pop. per Store Sales per Capita
Quebec $685,840 81 8,631,147 106,557 $6.44
New Brunswick $351,800 20 794,300 39,715 $8.86
Nova Scotia $239,417 36 998,832 27,745 $8.63
Newfoundland $168,889 36 521,758 14,493 $11.65
British Columbia $132,782 394 5,249,635 13,324 $9.97
Ontario $119,691 1295 14,915,270 11,518 $10.39
Saskatchewan $118,708 120 1,180,867 9,841 $12.06
Manitoba $107,592 130 1,386,333 10,664 $10.09
Alberta $89,906 731 4,464,170 6,107 $14.72
Canada $133,743 2859 38,436,447 13,444 $9.95


Sales and Stores Per Capita by City 

  Sales/Store Stores Population Pop. per Store Sales per Capita
Montreal $2,903,800 10 1,762,949 176,295 $16.47
Gatineau $926,000 2 1,408,000 704,000 $1.32
Quebec City $874,428.57 7 832,000 118,857 $7.36
Ottawa $325,062.50 48 1,407,928 29,332 $11.05
Vancouver $308,803.57 56 2,260,000 40,357 $7.65
Toronto $234,643.48 230 2,800,000 12,174 $19.27
Edmonton $136,359.76 164 1,062,000 6,476 $21.06
Winnipeg $106,534.09 88 825,000 9,375 $11.36
Calgary $98,913.51 185 1,200,000 6,486 $15.25

Note: based on store numbers as of December 31, 2021. Sales data based on Statistics Canada December 2021 data.

Quebec has the highest sales per store in Canada at an average of $685,839.51 per store. Its only legal retailers are its 81 government-run stores. Despite its efforts to provide residents access to legal cannabis and steer them away from the illicit market, one store serves 106,557 people—the highest population per store in Canada by a long shot.

While the average sales per capita for the province is $6.44, this varies largely when broken down by city. For instance, Gatineau with its two cannabis stores, has a sales per capita of $1.32, while Quebec City has 7 stores and a sales per capita of $7.36 and Montreal has 10 stores and a sales per capita of a whopping $16.47.

These numbers have increased slightly since August 2021, with Montreal experiencing the biggest increase in sales per capita (an increase of 5.9%), but Quebec shows little sign of improving its store to population ratio.

Atlantic Canada
Similar to August 2021, New Brunswick once again has the second highest average sales in Canada at $351,800 per store. While the number of stores has remained the same, this is a drop of 2.2% over the last five months from $359,600 per store in August.

The province’s 20 government-run Cannabis NB stores also serve the second highest population per store, behind Quebec at 39,715 per store. Per capita, the people of New Brunswick spend $8.86, a drop from $9.11 in August.

In December 2021, legislation was introduced in New Brunswick that will allow new forms of retail in the province, including private retail stores and farmgate stores. It is hoped these new stores will further help combat the illicit market.

Nova Scotia falls behind New Brunswick with the third highest sales in Canada at $239,416.67 per store and $8.63 per capita. Sales have dropped 8.3% since August 2021 (from $261,060.60) as the number of stores has risen by 3, but per capita sales have remained relatively the same. Each of Nova Scotia’s 36 stores serve 27,745 people.

Newfoundland & Labrador averages $168,888.89 in sales per store and $11.65 per capita, the third highest sales per capita in the country, behind Alberta and Saskatchewan. Each of its 36 stores serves 14,493 people.

British Columbia
British Columbia’s sales per store are close to the national average at $132,781.73 per store. The province’s 394 stores serve 13,324 people per store. But these numbers are very different at the municipal level. Vancouver’s 56 stores bring in an average of $308,803.57 per store and serve 40,357 each. While British Columbians spend $9.97 per capita, Vancouverites spend $7.65 per capita.

Industry advocacy groups have recently called on the provincial government to address barriers that limit access to legal cannabis products for residents of BC, including consumer access, regulatory costs and taxation, and market design.

Once again, Alberta is at the bottom of the list when it comes to average sales per store. Each of the province’s 731 stores bring in $89,905.61 on average—a number that has remained relatively consistent despite the number of stores increasing from 673 in August 2021.

Albertans are the best served, with each store serving an average of 6,107 people per store—the lowest in Canada. Residents also spend the highest per capita (out of the provincial averages) at $14.72.

This trend continues in Albertan cities. While the average sales per store is relatively low in Calgary and Edmonton, compared to other major Canadian cities, the sales per capita and population served per store is high. The 164 Edmonton retailers serve 6,476 people per store and average $21.06 per capita—the highest in Canada. Calgary’s 185 retailers serve 6,486 people per store and average $15.25 per capita.

Ontario moved up in the rankings by the end of 2021 when it comes to average sales per store, surpassing Saskatchewan and Manitoba, at $119,691 but still falling short of the national average. Each of Ontario’s 1,295 retailers brought in $119,691.12 per store and served 11,518 people with per capita sales of $10.39, an increase of $1.00 from August.

At the municipal level, Ontario’s major cities are faring much better. Toronto’s 230 retailers brought in an average of $234,643.48 per store, serving 12,174 people with per capita sales of $19.27. Comparably, Ottawa’s 48 stores served 29,332 people with average sales of $324,062.50 per store and $11.05 per capita.

Analysts continue to question when Ontario and Alberta will reach their saturation point. While sales per store dropped in Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, and Calgary from August to December, sales per capita is on the rise.

With more provinces allowing online sales, more consumers buying from legal retailers, and store numbers continuing to grow, it will be interesting to see how these numbers change in 2022.