Alberta listed their 700th licence retail cannabis store this week, as the competition in retail space across Canada heats up.
Although Ontario surpassed Alberta earlier this year in terms of total retailers (currently over 1,200 in Ontario listed as “Authorized to Open”), Alberta continues to have the most retail cannabis stores per capita in all of Canada, with one store for every 6,300 people.
By comparison—with a population of about 15 million and a little over 1,200 approved retailers— Ontario has one store for every 12,500 people. BC, the third largest province in terms of the total number of retail stores, has 389 retail stores currently listed as open, and a population of about 5 million, or one store for about every 12,800 people.
Alberta passed 600 retailers last March, at a time when Ontario still had about 550. Calgary, Alberta’s largest city with a population of about 1.3 million, is home to 173 cannabis stores. The second largest city, Edmonton, with just under 1 million people, has 158 cannabis stores. Although new retail store authorizations in Alberta were pouring in near the beginning of 2021, with a few dozen a week, the listings have slowed to just a few a week in recent months.
Manitoba has also seen significant growth in terms of cannabis stores this year, from 71 retail stores last March, to 121 listed today, or approximately one store for every 11,500 residents. Saskatchewan, with 68 stores last March, now has 111 retail stores, or about one store for every 10,800 residents, with a population of about 1.2 million.
The increasing amount of retail stores in these provinces, however, also means greater competition among many operating on very thin margins. Several cannabis stores in all three provinces have closed over the past year, some being scooped up by other retailers and some simply closing shop entirely. Earlier this year Ontario said they expect to see closures and consolidation as their retail numbers continue to climb.
Alberta sent out a survey in June to retailers gauging interest in online sales, although the details on what such a program could look like are still unknown. The province says they expect the results of the survey to be available by late fall.
While there are many independent cannabis stores with only one or a handful of locations, much of Alberta’s market is controlled by a handful of large chains. Nova Cannabis, owned by AlCanna, began rebranding many of their stores to the Value Buds discount brand in late 2020 and the bulk of their stores in Alberta are now under the Value buds brand, with 53 currently listed by Alberta, along with four Nova Cannabis locations.
Behind Nova/Value Buds—according to Albert’a public listings—Canna Cabana has 55 locations, Spiritleaf has 51, Fire & Flower have 41, Plantlife has 29, FOUR20 Premium Market has 21, Choom and Cannabis House each have 15, and Lucid Cannabis has 11.
Cannabis retail across the rest of Canada:
- Manitoba has 121 stores
- Saskatchewan 111
- Quebec 66
- Newfoundland 33
- Nova Scotia 33
- New Brunswick 20
- Northwest Territories 6
- Yukon 5
- PEII 4
- Nunavut 1