Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. reports lower profit despite new cannabis sales

HALIFAX — The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation says it sold $33 million worth of cannabis in its most recent fiscal year, but the Crown agency also reported a lower profit margin.

Year-end results, for the period ended March 31, show the corporation's total sales rose 5.8 per cent to $662 million, but net income dropped by $1.2 million to $237 million, when compared with the previous fiscal year.

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Those sales figures included 866,800 cannabis transactions with an average dollar value of $38.29.

In February, Nova Scotia Finance Minister Karen Casey said the province would expand the number of retail cannabis stores, as online sales have been slower than expected.

Casey said online sales were expected to account for about 10 per cent or more of total sales, but were only in the range of six per cent, which is why the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. was asked to look at adding to its 12 retail locations currently selling cannabis.

National figures compiled by Statistics Canada show retail sales in Nova Scotia peaked at $6.4 million before dropping off to $4.6 million in February and rising slightly to $4.9 million in March. Those numbers reflect a similar national trend.

Prior to legalization in October 2018, Nova Scotia led the country in cannabis consumption among people 15 and older with 23 per cent of residents reporting having used the drug, according to Statistics Canada. British Columbia ranked second at 20 per cent.

In January, Statistics Canada reported Atlantic Canadians were buying far more legal cannabis per capita than other Canadians.

During the first six weeks of legalization, Prince Edward Island topped the list, with residents on average spending $13.83 each on legal pot in six weeks. Nova Scotia came second at $11.34.

Newfoundland and Labrador came in third at $8.17, followed by New Brunswick at $6.87.

The national figure was $2.65.

Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. said locally produced beverages continued to show strong growth.

Sales of ready-to-drink beverages produced in Nova Scotia, which are mostly ciders, rose 81 per cent to $7.8 million, while local craft beer sales were up 27 per cent to $16.7 million.

As well, Nova Scotia spirit sales grew by 28 per cent to $7.8 million, while Nova Scotia wine sales rose by 2.5 per cent to $11.7 million.

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