The downtown SQDC outlet on Ste-Catherine St. announced Thursday it was completely out of stock on all merchandise.
After its first full week of operations, the Société québécoise du cannabis has admitted that supplying its stores is proving to be far more difficult than foreseen and is worried about its ability to maintain its 12-store sales network.
And that crisis became quite real at noon Thursday, as the downtown SQDC outlet on Ste-Catherine St. announced to customers it was completely out of stock on all merchandise.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” an SQDC employee posted outside the store told disgruntled customers. “You can try another store, but it’s the same supplier for all the outlets.”
While the same outlet announced it was completely out of stock on Wednesday, it was partially resupplied later in the day. And what of that inventory?
Watch – Customers leave the L’Acadie Blvd. SQDC with their cannabis
“It’s all gone,” said the employee. “We’re completely sold out.”
Seven days after cannabis became legal in Canada on Oct. 17, the SQDC recorded 138,150 transactions, a total of 84,850 of those purchases carried out in the agency’s stores and a level of traffic the Crown corporation says it had anticipated.
However, the first week of operations also revealed that supplying stock to meet demand constitutes a serious short-term challenge because of the “limited offer” available from suppliers and the turnaround time required to replenish stock, a problem the SQDC says is being faced across the country.
The store closure and the supply problems have raised the ire of one of the unions that have applied to represent the SQDC workers. The FTQ-affiliated Syndicat canadien de la fonction publique (SCFP) has accused the SQDC of “mismanagement” and said it fears for the security of jobs, leaving the new workers in a precarious situation.
Watch – Reflections on first week of marijuana legalization in Quebec
The scarcity of stock is something the SQDC says customers will have to put up with for months to come, also warning that its distribution system could be compromised. “Given the present state of things, maintaining the operation of supplying our stores will be a challenge.”
In its report of the first week of operations, the agency notes that “the orders the SQDC expected to receive (from suppliers) would have been sufficient to supply the stores and online transactions,” implicitly suggesting that not all of those orders were delivered.