Move over, Whole Foods: Pot shops may be the new most popular shopping destination.
Medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries produce an average annual revenue per square foot of $974, according to the 2016 Marijuana Business Factbook. Whole Foods' yearly revenue comes in slightly lower, at $930 per square foot.
Pot probably has an edge over even premium-priced groceries because it's easier to squeeze multiple varieties of the herb into a compact storefront than it is to pack in the bulkier food products sold by the grocer. Still, pot shops are challenged by the lack of existing rules and regulations surrounding the industry: They can run into problems with expensive operational licenses and the constant threat of police raids.
Marijuana stores' popularity is growing fast: Sales from medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries could reach $11 billion by 2020. Legal sales of cannabis already outpace those of e-cigarettes, at $1.5 billion, and Girl Scout cookies, at $776 million. The spiked demand for legal weed even prompted the opening of a drive-through pot dispensary in Oregon this year.
Still, the legal pot market is much smaller than Whole Foods' business overall. In 2015, annual legal cannabis sales in the U.S. ranged from about $3 to $4 billion in 2015, Whole Foods' $15 billion. Pot shops also lag behind the $4,799 annual revenue per square foot brought in by an Apple store, $3,132 for a luxury jewelry store, and $1,032 for a Costco wholesale store.
The budding industry still has a while to go before catching up with beer and wine, which have annual sales of $101.5 billion and $37.6 billion, respectively.