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Even so, sales through private retailers and regulator Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis’ online portal should reach $540 million for 2020, showing the legal sector is taking an increasing bite out of the illicit market that still maintains a strong presence, said Shah.
“This is a positive sign for regulators and market participants who are looking for the legal cannabis system to take a bigger chunk out of the illicit trade,” states Shah’s latest market report, which uses Statistics Canada data.
Ontario, with a population more than three times the size of Alberta’s but with fewer than 200 stores, should have 2020 sales of $645 million, said the Cannabis Benchmarks report.
Those rising Alberta earnings are driven mainly by a proliferation of stores — 524 have been approved by the AGLC.
It’s seen monthly sales figures in the sector go from just under $20 million in June 2019 to nearly $47 million a year later — and should hit $51.3 million in December, said Shah.
But that brings into play the law of diminishing returns in a province with 12 per cent of the nation’s population but 48 per cent of its cannabis stores, he said.
“It’s a very big disconnect with the rest of the country,” said Shah.
“Every store that opens up takes sales from other stores — it’s more of a plateauing effect.”
That revenue pie should become even more fractured if the AGLC’s recent store approval pace continues, which would translate to 600 stores by year’s end, he said.