Legalized Recreational Weed Hasn’t Hurt Liquor Sales in Oregon

It may even be helping bars a bit

New mobile numbers show that weed may indeed help booze sales in some cases.
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A year ago, Foursquare caught the data world’s attention with an accurate prediction that Chipotle’s store sales—thanks to the fast-casual brand’s E. coli problem—would fall by 30 percent. The location-based service’s anonymized foot traffic stats, which it combines with other data such as U.S. Census reports for weighted analyses, has been gaining credibility in retail realms.

So beer, liquor and wine sellers—especially bars—can breathe a bit of a sigh of relief when reading Foursquare’s latest finding: Legalized marijuana isn’t exactly wiping out their businesses in Oregon, which began allowing the sale of recreational weed in October 2015. In a blog post, Foursquare editor-at-large Sarah Spagnolo noted today that “enough time has passed for us to conduct a year-over-year analysis, which makes it an ideal case study.”

Visits to Oregon liquor outlets have actually grown from 5 percent to 10 percent, depending on the month, year over year, Foursquare said. However, visits jumped twice as much around the county. So, Oregonians have been going to the liquor store more often than before, but they haven’t trended as aggressively as their nationwide, boozy counterparts.

At the same time, bars and clubs in the Beaver State have experienced 3 percent growth in year-over-year foot traffic, per Foursquare, which was right in line with national nightlife data. “Consumers might be swapping casual drinks at home with cannabis, but our data implies that a night on the couch cannot be replaced by cocktails with friends, buckets of beer or 10 big-screen TVs for Sunday football,” Spagnolo wrote.

Here are a few other takeaways from Foursquare’s study, which overall covered the impact that weed was having not only on Oregon, but also the trio of other states that legalized recreational marijuana in the last few years—Alaska, Colorado and Washington:

  1. Weed is a growing marketplace. In 2016, foot traffic to marijuana dispensaries in those four states jumped 25 percent year over year.
  2. The commerce is often interstate, as 31 percent of dispensary visitors came across the border from another American state.
  3. They are young. People aged 21-34, or millennials, made up nearly half (46 percent) of dispensary visitors.
  4. But quite a few moms, dads and even grandparents are into it, too, as 23 percent of dispensary visitors were older than 55.

Lastly, here are a couple additional infographics from the study: