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Now, allow me briefly cover our operating costs. Overall, SG&A lowered by 7% over the comparison period last year. Sales and also advertising expenses lowered 25% year on year and also 44% quarter on quarter driven by a number of elements. First, advertising and marketing and promo cost declined by over $10 million versus the prior year because of delayed or terminated tasks as a result of COVID-19 and in addition to raised costs from last year to record retail space - awning screen.
financial investment, yet Canada settlement expenses decreased because of headcount reductions. As well as loved one to Q4, settlement expenses decreased by $4 million following our business restructuring actions and also the temporary furlough of corporate retail staff due to the closure of our business stores. G&An expenses raised by 2% year over year yet decreased 18% quarter over quarter due in component to a decline in professional costs, lower center expenditures and reduced travel expenses.
R&D costs reduced by 34% quarter on quarter as we are now reallocating our R&D initiatives to concentrate on tasks that have high commercial return potential with less emphasis on pharmaceutical-driven clinical tests. Stock-based payment expense in Q1 lowered 63% versus prior year to $28.6 million, partly because of the forfeiture of choices arising from personnel reductions that happened during the quarter.
Next off, I would love to talk about totally free capital. Our complimentary capital in the initial quarter of financial '21 was a discharge of $181 million which is over 50% enhancement compared to the previous year. Our capital decreased year over year as a result of lower inventory levels. And also notably, we ended the quarter with stock of $389 million, a little below the previous quarter.
Capex decreased to $62 million, down both on a year-on-year basis and also a quarter-on-quarter basis. As you can see in our quarterly results, we are making progression versus our essential monetary metrics that we offered at our June investor meeting. On earnings, we provided a decrease in SG&A load as a percent of sales, while we are working to obtain back to our 40% gross margin target.
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Prior to I close, I want to supply a couple of vital factors to think about on Q2. Initially, from a web income viewpoint, we anticipate progressive enhancement in our Canadian Rec organisation as store openings in Ontario should give continued tailwind. Our strategic organisations should proceed to see strong development from a new product launch and increased distribution, while we expect Storz & Bickel to see even more stabilized development in the 2nd quarter.
Third, while we expect a sequential pickup in advertising expenses as well as profession promotion activities as COVID-related restrictions are raised, we anticipate to see fringe benefit from decreased headcount Source as we finish our organizational review in coming months. So to summarize, we are progressing against our calculated concerns, we stay concentrated on strengthening our business and operational execution, while preserving our monetary discipline - aluminum louver.
Driver, David and also I would be happy to take inquiries from experts. [Operator guidelines] Your initial concern originates from Vivien Azer from Cowen. Please go on.-- Cowen and also Firm-- Analyst Hello. Thank you. Good early morning. I intended to concentrate on your outlook for rates. David, you kept in mind some price adjustments on vapes and after that layered in addition to that certainly the value launch.
Just trying to think of type of order of size, where you assume you're going to see the most push on the top line from the price deflation that you discussed? Many thanks. aluminum louver.-- Ceo Yeah. From a top-line point ofview, Viv, I believe that we'll remain to see the worth flower category grow.
But again, I believe that's just a healthy evolution out there. I additionally simply want to talk about that also. Like the-- as we remain to work through challenges, as it associates with gross margins, our purpose is to supply that above 40% gross margin, despite having an expanding value segment which suggests we simply need to progress our production properties to make sure that we can deliver profitably where the consumer desires to invest - aluminium canopy.
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-- Cowen and Company-- Expert Many Thanks. And if you could just talk about the vape rate modifications that you discussed?-- Ceo Yeah. I think, Viv, we still have-- the marketplace is so young, it's-- it really feels different to me than even more recognized markets where you see a pattern begin and after that people have to comply with.
As well as we do not assume that puts a great deal of stress on our leading line due to the fact that we're just not all that huge in vape, and also our team believe we have the margins browse this site to be a little much more aggressive which is why we're mosting likely to be a bit more hostile on 510s.
Thanks. Our Next concern comes from Tamy Chen from BMO Resources Markets. Please proceed.-- BMO Capital Markets-- Expert Yes, thanks. Greetings. Thanks for the inquiry. I wished to discuss the new high THC difficulties that you set on your product quality for blossoms. So when I believe concerning your current expand properties, numerous are rather huge and look what i found also some are fairly labor-intensive.
So my question is, I indicate just how can these facilities I think meet the brand-new high THC obstacles that you've set for blossom consistently at range, as well as do it at better margins than you're doing currently, especially if rates pressure proceeds to intensify?-- President Yeah, Tamy. So I believe-- you could correct me if I'm wrong below, but I think like 88% of our outcome in the quarter was high-THC flower.
We're likewise doing a great deal of job around optimizing that impact. We'll look for some products for-- to rely perhaps a little bit on outdoor expand as we move forward. So I think it's much less regarding what we can creating as well as possibly also much less concerning the margins in each center.