Out-of-stock pot is becoming a big problem for online shoppers

Customers and staff at the Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. retail cannabis store shop as marijuana retail sales commenced in the province of Ontario, April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Moe Doiron

Lacking the brick-and-mortar store density of mature recreational cannabis markets like Colorado, online shopping is an essential channel for legal pot sales in large swaths of Canada. Unfortunately, out-of-stock rates are on the rise, according to a new analysis of e-commerce platforms by Cowen.

Analyst Vivien Azer looked at 1,485 products with 3,032 SKUs from online stores in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador—a sample covering 65 per cent of Canada’s population. The results show the stockout rate has reached 59 per cent, up from 56 per cent on Sept. 2.

“While it is difficult to assess how much of the change is demand versus supply driven, our view is that demand remains strong while supply is limited,” Azer wrote in a research note on Thursday.

At the provincial level, Ontario’s stockout rate fell 0.6 points to 61 per cent. New Brunswick's stockout rate increased 6.1 points to 63 per cent, the largest increase among the provinces. British Columbia was up 5.3 points to 63 per cent. Alberta was up 2.3 points to 38 per cent. Newfoundland and Labrador was also up 2.3 points to 74 per cent.

Dried flower accounted for 70 per cent of SKUs analyzed. Cowen found the stockout rate for pre-rolled joints was the highest at 66 per cent, followed by dried flower (61 per cent), oils (36 per cent) and capsules (31 per cent).

The average price per gram for dried flower fell slightly (1.11 per cent) to $10.35. Average pre-roll prices were virtually unchanged at $13.38. Azer attributed a modest pullback in oil and capsule prices to excess inventory in the supply chain.

Other key insights include Canopy Growth Corp. (WEED.TO)(CGC) retaining its leading share of sales with 21 per cent of the market. Aurora Cannabis Inc. (ACB.TO)(ACB) was the runner-up with 11 per cent market share, followed by Organigram Holdings Inc. (OGI.TO)(OGI) with a nine per cent share.

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