Boom! U.S. consumers hit by July 4th fireworks price hike
By Lindsay Dunsmuir
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumers already grappling with soaring prices for airline tickets, rental cars and some hotels this Independence Day weekend have another headache to add to the list: the cost of the fireworks.
“All businesses had to increase this year. We had no choice,” said Sharon Hunnewell-Johnson, president of Galaxy Fireworks in Tampa, Fla., Which has four retail stores and 70 seasonal locations across the State.
It had to increase the prices of some fireworks by 15-35% due to the impact of a global shipping backlog for products made in China. Last year, she paid between $ 10,000 and $ 13,000 per fireworks shipping container. It now costs over $ 30,000 and continues to increase.
A shortage of shipping containers and port bottlenecks have affected many industries as the world recovers from the depths of the COVID-19 crisis, and the arrears threaten to disrupt the Christmas shopping season as well.
For the fireworks industry, shipments are still stranded at U.S. ports ahead of the busiest selling season of the year. The production and shipping problems are expected to continue until the first quarter of next year.
“Our transit times have been extremely irregular,” said Ben Muzzey, sales manager at Spirit of ’76 Fireworks, a wholesaler and retailer based in Columbia, Missouri. Some of the company’s shipments, which typically take about a month to arrive, have taken up to three months.
He estimates that they are currently only able to process between 65% and 70% of their orders.
Rising costs and the supply crunch come at a time of record demand for garden fireworks celebrations in the United States.
In 2019, 273 million pounds of fireworks were used, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association, which represents 250 member companies. Last year that rose to £ 404.5million as the pandemic boosted demand.
This remains part of the problem. In a typical year, there is usually additional inventory available, but last year’s record sales have depleted supplies.
“All stocks were depleted. Demand was unprecedented during the pandemic,” said Julie Heckman, executive director of the APA.
While it may be more difficult for consumers to get hold of fireworks as July 4 approaches, there is a silver lining. Many large professional fireworks were canceled in 2020. These companies’ fireworks were unused in their warehouses, ready for this year.
“They stayed on their inventory for the whole year. They were ready to go on July 4,” Heckman said.
(Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Andrea Ricci)