On April 1, 2019 Westleaf (WL.V) a Calgary-based integrated cannabis company, launched a new marijuana marketplace for the residents of Saskatchewan.

By logging onto the Prairie Records Website Saskatchewan cannabis consumers can order weed products and related accessories for immediate delivery throughout the province.

A Unique Cannabis Experience

Prairie Records is an ambitious undertaking by Westleaf that seeks to combine the online and physical marijuana retail segments under one brand.

“Westleaf’s retail model is to use the record store concept to create an ‘album’ of sorts for each strain, that would include branding, strain info, a little text, images – and let consumers ‘leaf’ through them in the same way we used to leaf through vinyl albums,” wrote Equity Guru’s Chris Parry, “It’s novel, even smart. And that was why I was convinced Health Canada wouldn’t allow it, because Health Canada is to ‘user friendly’ as Andre The Giant was to the vegan diet.  But here we are, and the first Prairie Records store actually exists now.”

The online store will serve Saskatchewan through a wide selection of products, including 65 stock keeping units (SKUs) available for expedited delivery across the province. Same-day delivery options for most of Saskatchewan is expected in the coming weeks.

“The launch of online retail is an important next step in rolling out the Prairie Records brand across Saskatchewan and the rest of Western Canada over the coming months,” stated Scott Hurd, President and CEO of Westleaf, “The province of Saskatchewan has proven to be a positive regulatory environment to launch our retail operations and we are pleased it is the first jurisdiction with a Prairie Records online presence.”

As a brand, Prairie Records is an interplay on the “instinctual tie” between cannabis and music. This relationship will define both in-store and online shopping experiences.

According to the news release, the company holds the option of purchasing two more physical stores in Saskatoon by April 20, 2019.

Once the initial rollout is complete, Prairie Records stores will be available at up to 50 retail locations in densely populated neighborhoods across Western Canada. The company hasn’t ruled out Ontario expansion in the future.

A Cure for Ailing Retail Sales?

Canada’s retail segment has been under pressure for the better part of a year, raising fresh alarm over the health of the economy. Like other advanced industrialized nations, Canada relies heavily on consumer spending for economic growth. Weakness in this component usually spills over into other segments of the economy.

Retail sales are one of the closest proxies for consumer spending. Last month, Statistics Canada reported a third consecutive decline in retail sales, as receipts fell 0.3% in January. That followed a similar drop the month before and a 0.9% plunge in November.

On a region level, most provinces have seen their retail activity decline. For Saskatchewan, receipts fell 0.7% in January, the fourth consecutive monthly drop. The downtrend has been more severe in the other Prairie provinces of Alberta and Manitoba.

In January, Canada-wide cannabis stores generated $53 million in sales, down 4.5% from the previous month. Although much of that decline can be attributed to the prevailing supply shortage, a lack of available retail options has also hampered the market.

The advent of brick-and-mortar cannabis stores will help alleviate that pressure, but so will trusted online shopping platforms. That’s where Westleaf’s Prairie Records comes into play.

When established cannabis companies have viable online markets, users feel less apprehensive about purchasing through the Internet.

Case in point: Ontario is home to the largest market for cannabis users but sales in the province have lagged behind Quebec and Alberta.

Part of the problem is the lack of trusted online markets in the absence of physical stores. (Lucky for Ontario, about two-dozen physical shops are set to open this month.)

University of Regina professor Jason Childs expects Saskatchewanians will soon be lighting up 25 million joints per year as demand surges. That’s equivalent to about 25 tons of product.

However you slice it, Saskatchewan is a juicy market for Westleaf.

Full Disclosure: Westleaf is an Equity Guru marketing client.

Written By:

Sam Bourgi

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