Fourth of July plans are up in the air for some fireworks enthusiasts, thanks to supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic.
Industry experts say everything from sparklers to bottle rockets are in short supply this year, proving tough for Americans looking to celebrate the national holiday — particularly from COVID-19. Phantom Fireworks, one of the nation’s largest fireworks retailers, has urged customers to shop early if they want to stock up in time for the weekend festivities.
“Like many other industries, the fireworks industry has also experienced delays due to shipment challenges facing the global market,” Alan L. Zoldan, executive vice president of Phantom, said in a statement earlier this month. “The good news is that we prepared early in anticipation of high demand again this year, and are encouraging Phantom customers to do the same.”
Pandemic-driven shortages have touched most industries from food service to adult entertainment. A shortage of chlorine tablets could threaten pool-time fun this summer and a supply disruption has left Starbucks customers without their favorite drink items. Now, it’s fireworks.
Fireworks supply down following record year
Fireworks supply is forecast to be down as much as 30% heading into Independence Day, according to NBC News, citing research firm IHS Markit data. It comes a year after the industry saw record-breaking sales during summer 2020 as Americans hunkered down at home to celebrate July Fourth.
The supply log jams have hit smaller shops especially hard, including Boom Boom Billy’s in Marion, Iowa.
“I’m just sitting here, scratching my head as to whether I’m going to have enough material or enough product to get us through the Fourth,” shop owner Paul Myers told KCRG.
Some retailers upped their orders to keep up with demand, “meaning this year there could be a shortfall of over 76 million pounds of fireworks,” NBC News reported. That means limited product and potentially higher prices for customers.
Jason Lewis, who puts on a dazzling pyrotechnic display for his family and friends in Oklahoma for Independence Day each year, told NBC he had to drive through three states and only managed to score about half the fireworks he usually does.
Wholesale sellers like Fireworks Supermarket have had to turn away customers who want to buy in bulk because there simply aren’t enough fireworks to go around, KPLR reported.
“We haven’t taken no new customers at the wholesale level at any of our four warehouses the whole year,” owner Mike Ingram told the news station. “We’ve had to refuse it.”
Shipping delays have also caused supply chain disruptions for retailers like Aaron Blankenship, owner of Titan Fireworks, who said a fireworks shipment from China that would usually arrive in 30 days now takes up to 10 weeks, according to News Channel 5.
The secret to putting on a spectacular show for the Fourth this year is to shop early.
“We anticipate, starting as early as this weekend, things are really going to start ramping up,” Blankenship said. “If they want a good selection, they need to come as early as possible.”