- The fireworks shortage that affected consumers in 2020 and 2021 seems to be over.
- This year, retailers warn that supply chain challenges have led to higher prices.
- Costs across the fireworks industry are up 35%, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.
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The fireworks shortage that has plagued shoppers the past two years seems to have run its course, but the industry isn’t done with supply chain issues yet. Experts warn that an uptick in shipping rates, raw materials and labor costs spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a steep price hike for fireworks this year.
“Unfortunately, we had to pass some of the price increases on to the public,” said Bruce Zoldan, president and CEO of consumer fireworks distributor Phantom Fireworks. “I would say from 2019 till ‘22, items’ (costs) have at least doubled.”
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Why did firework prices go up?
Suppliers say it’s getting more expensive to bring in fireworks into the U.S. and sell them to consumers.
Overall costs are up 35% across the fireworks industry, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), which represents the consumer fireworks industry. An April report from the trade association points to increased costs for raw materials, shipping and transportation, insurance and labor.
Stephen Pelkey, president of the APA and owner of New Hampshire-based retail outlet Atlas Fireworks, noted that most of his store clerks make a minimum of $15 to $18 per hour, compared with $12 to $15 four years prior.
And shipping costs to import the products from China – which is the source of about 95% of consumer fireworks sold in the U.S. – have skyrocketed over the past three years, according to the APA. Importing product costs about $45,000 per shipping container today compared with $8,000 to $10,000 in 2019.
Pelkey says the price of products has gone up 10% to 15% since 2019 at his four retail stores, while Supreme Fireworks spokesperson Josh Pappas estimated the price hike for retail and wholesale company is closer to 40%. Zoldan said prices have gone up 20% to 30% over just the past year.
Is there a fireworks shortage?
The cancellation of public firework shows in 2020 and 2021 prompted a dramatic uptick in firework sales as families turned to at-home displays. That surge in demand, paired with supply chain issues, led to two consecutive years of firework shortages.
“It created a huge, huge demand on the fireworks industry that we weren’t prepared for,” Pappas said. “We sold through all the product that we had. Everybody was placing massive new orders for production going into 2021 and still really couldn’t get ahead of it.”
While families could see some popular items out of stock as July 4 nears, retailers and distributors say they are better prepared to match demand this year.
Zoldan said Phantom this year is receiving 75% to 80% of its orders on time compared with 50% in 2020 and 2021.
“We’re still not getting 100%, but we’re in much better shape than we were the previous two years,” he said.
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Experts suggest shopping early for the best selection and deals.
“If you want to avoid the crowds, if you want to make sure that you get the colored sparklers that you want or the right fountain that you watch, you have to shop a bit early or you just take a chance of what is running low,” Pelkey said.
He added that many companies tend to run sales from Memorial Day weekend through the end of June, so shopping early can help cut costs.
Zoldan also suggests looking for coupons online or waiting until after July Fourth for deals.
“We’ll have special sales throughout summer,” he said.
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