MONTREAL ― Marijuana retailers in many parts of the country are reporting a spike in sales as customers stock up ahead of potential sales disruptions during the COVID-19 outbreak.
And they may not be wrong; Canada’s largest cannabis company on Tuesday announced it is temporarily shutting all its retail locations and focusing on online sales.
Smiths Falls, Ont.-based Canopy Growth said all 23 of its stores operating under the Tweed and Tokyo Smoke banners will close as of 5 p.m. Tuesday. The affected locations are in Manitoba, Newfoundland, Saskatchewan and Smiths Falls.
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“We have a responsibility to our employees, their families, and our communities to do our part to “flatten the curve” by limiting social interactions,” CEO David Klein wrote in a statement. “For us, that means shifting our focus from retail to e-commerce.”
Klein noted that outlets “have been serving an above-average volume of transactions in recent days. Given the current situation, it is in the best interest of our teams and our communities to close these busy hubs until we are confident we can operate our stores in the best interest of public health.”
The Ontario Cannabis Store, the provincially owned wholesaler that sells to retail customers online, reported a spike in sales of up to 80 per cent this past Saturday, according to Marijuana Business Daily. Retailers also reported increased sales in Alberta and Quebec, though in British Columbia some say they have seen little change.
In Montreal, line-ups were long outside provincially-run SQDC stores, but the retailer says it sees no risk of a shortage. It does, however, recommend that some customers shop online.
“We kindly ask all customers who have recently travelled abroad or are experiencing flu-like symptoms, to avoid visiting our stores and do their shopping online at SQDC.ca instead,” the company said in a recent press release.
The company says it has taken steps to address the viral outbreak, including increased frequency of cleaning at its locations, and reduced product handling between customers and employees. Meetings will be held by videoconference, and SQDC staff have been asked not to travel abroad for personal reasons until April 30.