Fireworks Shortage Looming in the U.S. Ahead of Fourth of July

Fireworks sales boomed in 2020 but now suppliers are having a hard time with the demand

Photo: Joe Sohm/Getty

If you were considering buying fireworks for the Fourth of July, get to suppliers now!

Several retailers warn that there might be a shortage of fireworks this year following 2020's boom in sales due to stay-at-home orders around the country.

An estimated 255 million fireworks were imported by the U.S., mostly from China, last year. This year, supplies might shrink by 30 percent, NBC News reported.

Some shoppers told the outlet they've already struggled to find supplies and have resorted to traveling across state lines to buy them.

An added struggle, fireworks enthusiasts have said, centers around the pyrotechnics' rising cost.

Prices have gone up by nearly 30 percent at major fireworks retailers, William Weimer, vice president and general counsel of Phantom Fireworks, told NBC News, citing the rise of shipping costs.

"We try to do our best to try to absorb some of the costs," he said. "In some cases, we're paying more for the freight than the product."

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Fireworks. Getty Images

Phantom Fireworks has approximately 80 stores across the country and sells to thousands of retailers.

In a cautionary notice earlier this month, the company's executive vice president, Alan Zoldan, warned fireworks consumers to buy before it's too late.

"Like many other industries, the fireworks industry has also experienced delays due to shipment challenges facing the global market," Zoldan said in a statement. "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."

Joe VanOudenhove III, co-owner of the Florida-based Sky King fireworks chain, told NBC News that if a fireworks enthusiast wants to be "a neighborhood legend" they should "Shop early for best selection."

Shipping has lagged for months on fireworks. Only a handful of shipping lines can accept the explosive material and of those lines, ships have a limit on how much hazardous cargo they can transport.

"The biggest thing is the shipping," Wisconsin local owner of KG Fireworks, Jason Deatherage, told FOX21. "We have been actively reaching out to our customers and letting people know there is a shortage, delays, a lot of stuff won't even get into the U.S. until after the Fourth of July."

Fireworks. Getty

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"Container capacity has been at a shortage for some time now. Couple that with the imbalance of vessels from the Suez Canal blockage — this has sent container pricing through the roof," Glenn Koepke, SVP of Customer Success at FourKites logistics software company, similarly told NBC News.

Koepke added, "Companies that have stable and committed volume with steamship lines are getting the service they need, where companies that have a very cyclical business with lumpiness in container demand are struggling to get capacity on vessels."

"What could be a booming business, it's just not happening," Ed Vasel, vice president of the National Fireworks Association, told the outlet. "The people are there, the demand is there, the product is not there."

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